BOSTON (CBS) – A line wrapped around the Old South Church on the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets early Sunday morning.

The traditional Blessing of the Athletes draws a crowd each year but the date coinciding with Easter Sunday brought out hundreds of runners and their families.

For nine years the church has offered the Blessing. New this year, more than 8,000 scarves were given as part of the prayer.

After last year’s terrorist attack, people in 48 different states and 12 different countries knitted and sent the blue and gold scarves.  During the service, runners were wrapped in “love and courage” by fellow parishioners.

“I think that means a lot,” said Tre Montigue of the note attached to his scarf made in Kentucky. “I know when these people made the scarf, it meant a lot to them.”

The Old South Church also plans to continue its tradition of ringing the bells as each elite runner group makes the left turn from Hereford Street to Boylston Street. The bells ring the winners across the finish line.

“It’s a long way!” said Senior Minister Nancy S. Taylor. “We’re giving them a little bit of edge to get that last bit going, just to say welcome to Boston!”

The Blessing of the Athletes reads:

Minister:  Strong and faithful God, we ask Your blessing on these athletes who have come to race and compete.  Keep them safe from injury and harm.  Instill in them respect for each other.  Give them the endurance to compete well.  Reward them for their discipline and perseverance.

Congregation:  May you mount up with wings like eagles. May you run and not grow weary. May you walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Minister:  May God touch you with a wind that keeps you strong, for all the days to come.

Congregation:  God bless you. God be with you.  Amen.

At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, Cardinal Sean O’Malley also offered prayers and blessings for marathon runners during Easter Mass.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

“Boston Strong is stronger today because of our Easter faith,” O’Malley said. He told those in attendance that it was faith that got many through the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.


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