Ashes to ashes

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 21 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:424
  1. David Lockington, ophthalmologist, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
  1. davidlockington{at}

Some readers may be familiar with Ash Wednesday, when members of the Roman Catholic community in Northern Ireland have charcoal placed on their foreheads as symbolic of the beginning of Lent. As time has gone by, this has become an overt statement of allegiance in certain areas.

I was working at a hospital when one such patient arrived with a huge mark on his forehead. After …

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