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As preparation for Easter Christians introduced the custom of observing two days of prayer, reflection, and fast to express their sorrow for the death of Christ. They gradually prolonged the period of preparation: in the third century it became a week, then three weeks until on the fourth century it extended to forty days: Lent thus began. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D) speaks of “the forty days” as an institution known to all and spread everywhere.