Students formed a line on the Plaza of the Americas as they received ashes on their foreheads Wednesday.
About 200 students gathered in the 50-degree weather for Ash Wednesday, which starts the season of Lent, said Lauren Troncoso, a UF psychology senior.
Catholic Gators and St. Augustine Catholic Church held Mass on the Grass, in which students prayed and sang songs before receiving ashes.
Nick D’Agostino, a UF mechanical engineering junior, acted as an altar server, helping the priest during the mass.
“Usually there will be about 80 students here,” the 20-year-old said.
Troncoso, 22, and Veronica Celis, 20, co-coordinators of Catholic Gators, said the event was successful.
“When Lauren and I made the Facebook event, it blew up immediately,” said Celis, a UF nursing junior.
Father David Ruchinski said he noticed the crowd was large when he didn’t have enough wafers for students.
“He had to break them in smaller and smaller pieces,” Troncoso said.
Students who attended the service walked away with ash on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.
“I like to think that it’s an outward sign of our inward commitment and repentance,” said Joe Sutherland, a UF mechanical engineering junior.
Troncoso said this mass differed from the ones she attends in church.
“It’s a unique experience,” she said. “You are proclaiming your faith in front of everyone on campus. You aren’t hiding in a church.”
Valentina Osorio, a 21-year-old UF psychology senior, receives an ash cross from Father David Ruchinski of St. Augustine Church on Plaza of the Americas on Feb. 10, 2016 A crowd of about 200 gathered to observe Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent.