The historic churches of Copley Square are preparing for the confluence of Easter weekend and the first Boston Marathon since last year’s bombings with a series of special rituals and exhibits, including an interfaith vigil.
The gatherings and displays are open to all.
On Friday, Trinity Church, Old South Church, and the Church of the Covenant on Newbury Street will hold their Stations of the City walk. The service follows the Christian tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross, a ritual commemorating the suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday.
Most years, the Stations of the City involves dozens of people walking to soup kitchens, shelters, and other places Jesus might have visited, stopping at each to reflect and pray.
In this year’s service, which begins at 3:15 p.m. Friday on Trinity’s west porch, facing Copley Square, participants will lament the violence and death Boston has experienced over the last year, particularly the Marathon bombings and the Beacon Street fire last month that killed two firefighters.
The nine stops will include one of the bombing sites on Boylston Street and 298 Beacon St., where the fire claimed the lives of the firefighters.
Trinity’s Easter Vigil service at 8 p.m. Saturday will be preceded by an interfaith prayer vigil “to heal Copley Square” as the city prepares for the Marathon. The interfaith gathering, which begins at 7 p.m. on Trinity’s west porch, is especially intended for runners, volunteers, first responders, and fans who were unable to attend services commemorating the tragedy on April 15.
“It is the night when we celebrate the passing of Jesus from death to life, the night where we kindle a fire to symbolize the ultimate triumph of light and life over darkness and violence,” the Rev. Rita Powell of Trinity said in a release.
Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Marathon runners will light a blaze in a cauldron. Prayers and reflections will be offered by clergy and others from the Back Bay churches; the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, in Roxbury, the city’s largest mosque; and Temple Israel, in the Longwood Medical Area, the city’s largest synagogue.
Cantor Randy Schloss of Temple Ohabei Shalom, one of the runners, will sing a blessing of the fire in Hebrew, in English, and then without words.
Old South Church, at Boylston and Dartmouth streets, will hold its traditional Blessing of the Athletes at Easter services at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday, the day before the Marathon.
The congregation, the church said, will “pray down God’s blessings on the athletes: that they be kept safe from harm or injury, that they might serve as an example of peaceful international competition, and that God grant them the stamina to finish the race.”
The church will continue handing out to marathoners the 7,000 blue and gold scarves knitted by church members and others from around the world to wrap this year’s athletes “in love, hope, and prayer.”
Trinity Church has been inviting visitors over the past week to write prayers and peace blessings on pieces of cloth. The church plans to use them to create prayer flags to be hung from the church on Easter Sunday and Marathon Monday.
Through April 29, visitors to Old South Church can view the blue and gold tower banners that the church hung last year overlooking the Marathon finish line, which grew tattered in the wind and rain as they hung behind crime scene barriers for eight days. The banners, the church said, have been “lovingly transformed” by artist Kathleen Simone.
Lisa Wangsness can be reached at email@example.com.