BOSTON—Four glowing white pillar candles illuminated photographs of each of the people lost in bombing-connected violence in the Boston area last week as the city held religious services on the first Sunday after the blasts shattered the community and plunged it into days of chaos.
The photographs showing the faces of 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Chinese student Lu Lingzi, 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell and 26-year-old police officer Sean Collier were propped up on the altar at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley spoke about the city’s pain.
“Everyone has been profoundly affected by this wanton violence inflicted upon our community by two young men unknown to all of us. It’s very difficult to understand what was going on in their heads, what demons were operating, what ideologies or politics or the perversions of their religion,” he said.
Two Muslim brothers from Russia, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and 26-year-old Tamerlan, are suspected in Monday’s bombings. The older brother was killed in a gun battle during a getaway attempt; the younger brother was captured after a gunfight with police.
Along the barricade that has become a shrine near the Boston Marathon finish line, hundreds of people sang hymns and prayed beneath a brilliant blue sky.
“Guide my feet while I run this race,” they sang.
Reconciliation, not revenge
Bouquets of flowers, small white crosses and American flags are piled at the makeshift memorial, where people have been gathering to pay their respects ever since the explosions.
Susan Ackley, a priest at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, said religious leaders had visited the area “to clear the air and to bless it.” She encouraged people to forgive the perpetrators.
“Instantaneous forgiveness, I think, is impossible,” she said. “That’s not what needs to happen. But I think it is the role of the churches and the synagogues to try to hold this community of human beings together.”
O’Malley echoed that sentiment, exhorting the congregation to keep the spirit of community generosity alive—and to spread love, not hate.
“We must be people of reconciliation, not revenge,” he said. “The crimes of two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Muslims or against immigrants.”
The cardinal said the violent culture of video games and films had made Americans insensitive to suffering. He criticized Congress for failing to enact gun control legislation.
Kelly McKernan, who lives just a few blocks from the bombing site, was crying as she stood outside the cathedral, where people were hugging on the sidewalk.
“I hope we can all heal and move forward,” she said.
At least one man wore his blue Boston Marathon jacket with its gold unicorn symbol embroidered on the back.
“You know, God is here,” said Jonathan Ralton, who was volunteering handing out medals and Mylar capes after runners crossed the finish line last week. “God is with us, wherever we gather.”