A PRIEST was forced to abandon an Ash Wednesday mass after 30 of his parishioners had their foreheads 'scorched' by the ashes.
Fr Eugene Baker had given out the ashes to everyone in the congregation when they started to complain about a burning sensation.
He was forced to stop the Mass in St Joseph's Church in Newtownshandrum, north Cork, and advise the congregation to go into the sacristy and wash the ashes off.
Fr Baker said this morning that he is surprised by the anomaly and he apologised to his parishioners.
He has sent the ashes to the laboratory in St Finbarr's Hospital in Cork for testing.
"It has never happened to me before. Has it happened to other people? I don't know," he said. "Those who came to me afterwards said it was a tingling sensation.
"They wiped it off immediately and they alerted me and I told people to go to the sacristy and wash it off."