RELIGION
04/15/2013 11:52 pm ET Updated Apr 17, 2013

Boston Prayer Vigils Mourn Victims Of Marathon Explosion

As Bostonians began to recover from the bomb explosions during Monday's marathon that killed at least three people and injured more than 140, churches and houses of worship are opening their doors for prayer.

Boston's Cathedral of St. Paul, a downtown Episcopal church, will open Tuesday for a special prayer service for victims at 12:15 p.m. with Bishop Gayle E. Harris presiding, while its neighboring Park Street church, an evangelical congregation, will open for prayers at noon. A nearby Unitarian Universalist congregation, Arlington Street Church, will hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening.

All are located by the Boston Common and Public Garden, two main public parks in the city that are a walk of less than 15 minutes east of where two bombs exploded Monday afternoon near the Boston Marathon finish line.

Houses of worship nearby, including those in Somerville, Brookline, Sudbury, Watertown, Medford and Natick, have also announced vigils and prayer services, with some on Monday night.

Other Monday evening vigils had been planned, including one on Boston University's Marsh Plaza, but were canceled or postponed to follow police advice for Bostonians to stay inside and not gather publicly in big groups. But the university's Catholic chaplain, the Rev. John McLaughlin, said in a report that the prayerful filled the chapel for a Mass for the dead and injured on Monday evening. Chaplains at several other Boston-area universities have announced spiritual gatherings, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has also called for prayer.

"In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today," Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley said in a statement. "We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing,"

In Boston, home to some of the nation's oldest churches and one where a stroll on any given street block often includes passing historic Protestant congregations, churches have also reported opening for shelter to house displaced residents or out-of-towners visiting for the marathon, as well announced plans to offer counseling. The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center has said it has relief volunteers and counselors available, while Temple Israel of Boston, a Jewish congregation, will also open Tuesday for a prayer vigil.

The Boston Atheists and Secular Coalition has also voiced its support for victims, saying that although "prayer isn’t for us an option," differences in religious beliefs "pale in comparison to what brings us all together as members of the community."

Elsewhere in New England and around the nation, several candlelit vigils were organized by churches, universities and local communities on Monday night.

They included ones in Knoxville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.

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