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Obama, Boston come together to honor bombing victims

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Three days after bombs shattered its most joyous day, Boston came together Thursday to seek comfort, honor the victims and, in the words of one minister, "heal our beloved city and this violence-weary world."

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and other dignitaries arrived for an interfaith prayer service at a cathedral less than a mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

"We are one Boston," Mayor Thomas Menino told about 2,000 people packed into Cathedral of the Holy Cross. "No adversity. No challenge. Nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of the city and its people."

Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church opened the service with the message of healing. Other speakers sought to reassure a heartbroken city that its grief would make it stronger.

"God has not forsaken Boston," said the Rev. Roberto Miranda of Congregation León de Judá. "God has not forsaken our nation. He merely weaves a beautiful, bright tapestry of goodness that includes a few dark strands."

Obama offered prayers for the families of the dead and praised Boston as an open-hearted city, one of the world's greatest. He also cited personal ties: The president attended law school at Harvard, across the Charles River in Cambridge, and was catapulted to political prominence by a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

"Every one of us has been touched by this attack on your beloved city," Obama said. "Every one of us stands with you. Because after all, it's our beloved city, too."

During an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino praises the resilience of the city and its people who, with tears in their eyes, "triumphed" over the deadly explosions that shook Boston on Patriots Day.

People began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m. to get into the service, in a line stretching 10 blocks, The Boston Globe reported. About half the seats were reserved for police, other first responders and families of victims. Runners, nurses and other well-wishers also turned out.

Related: Well-wishers ‘trying to be strong' for marathon victims

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, also attended, seated next to his oldest son, Tagg. Yo-Yo Ma, the acclaimed cellist, was to perform.

The service was taking place while investigators looked for two men they want to question in the blasts, which killed three people and injured 176 on Monday.

Obama also planned to meet with families of people injured or killed in the explosions, a White House spokesman said Thursday.

"At the same time, he will reiterate his confidence in the resilience in the people of Boston and remind the American people that the way the people of Boston responded to this terror attack represents who we are as a country," spokesman Josh Earnest said.

As the city struggled back to life, the Boston Bruins played the first professional sports event since the bombings. During the national anthem, a crowd of more than 17,000 joined in singing, and was cheering and belting out the song by the last lines.

The explosions took place on the most celebrated day on the Boston calendar — Patriots Day, a city holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution.

The cathedral was dedicated in 1875. It is led by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, who was considered a candidate for pope earlier this year. At the service, he offered love and support from Pope Francis, and he invoked the runners and race volunteers who rushed to help victims of the blasts.

"The generous and courageous response of so many assures me that there resides in people's hearts a goodness that is incredibly selfless," the cardinal said. "Summoned by great events, we can be remarkably committed to the well-being of others, even total strangers."

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