For trying to shield her student as both died in the gunfire, Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Anne Marie Murphy earned perhaps the highest praise from New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Thursday. The Catholic leader, presiding over the 52-year-old Murphy's funeral, compared her to Jesus, NBC News reported.
"Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends," Dolan told mourners at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Katonah, N.Y. "Like Jesus, Annie's life and death brings light, truth, goodness and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death."
Murphy, a mother of four who was a special education teacher, was reportedly found with her arms wrapped around 6-year-old Dylan Hockley. She worked with Dylan one-on-one, and the boy was so taken with his teacher that he kept a picture of her on his family's fridge, the Connecticut Post noted. The Associated Press wrote that other children were discovered under Murphy's protective embrace as well.
“Like Jesus, Annie was an excellent teacher; like him, she had a favored place in her big, tender heart for children, especially those with struggles,” Dolan said, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.
The cardinal didn't know the deceased, but his presence indicated the impact of the tragedy, the New York Times wrote. “I never had the honor of meeting Annie, so I’m at a disadvantage,” Dolan said, according to the paper. “Then again, I never had the honor of physically meeting Jesus, yet my union with him is the most important thing in my life. And because I know Jesus, I feel as if I know Anne Marie McGowan Murphy quite well."
Her heroism bonded the grieving everywhere, he said. "Like [Jesus], she has brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death."