Carol Monaghan said that most people did not know what the symbol meant

Catholic MP Carol Monaghan has said that having ashes on her forehead at a Commons select committee meeting turned into a teaching moment when a number of colleagues did not know what the symbol meant.

The MP for Glasgow North West told the BBC that she was not embarrassed to appear on television displaying the mark.

“When I came into committee, one of the members asked me about it. I said ‘it’s Ash Wednesday’ and they said ‘but this is going to be broadcast’.

“I think they just thought I didn’t want to be embarrassed – but I was not going to rub it off,” Monaghan said.

She added that most religions display their faith visibly through symbols and clothing and that Catholics shouldn’t feel embarrassed to do so too.

Before becoming an SNP MP in 2015, Monaghan was a physics teacher at a state school and said that because of that experience she was used to people asking questions about the meaning behind the mark.

“I am happy to answer their questions. For me it is an educational opportunity,” she said.

In 2011, an English bishop encouraged Catholics not to rub ashes off their foreheads after they receive the blessing because it provides Christians with an opportunity to evangelise.