Ted Kennedy's Funeral at Church Where He Sought Healing

The senator's funeral mass will take place in a Boston basilica where he went for healing.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

The Boston church that will host Sen. Edward Kennedy's funeral mass on Saturday doesn't have air conditioning. It's less grand—and a lot less well known—than Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross. It lacks parking.

So why is the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help the staging ground for a historic event this weekend? Because Kennedy, like thousands of others, came to the church seeking help for medical ills. Boston Globe religion reporter Michael Paulson explains:

For years, thousands of Bostonians have sought healing by praying before a golden image of the Virgin Mary in a shrine on Mission Hill. They kneel before the painting, leave flowers by the rail, deposit notes in a glass bowl, turn on electronic candles, even drop off crutches or braces as a sign of a miraculous cure.

Many of the petitioners are poor and powerless.

But over the years, Senator Edward M. Kennedy also came to the shrine seeking healing, and now his family has chosen the landmark basilica in which the shrine is located as the site for the senator's funeral Saturday.

Kennedy visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help daily in 2002, while his daughter was being treated for lung cancer at the nearby Brigham and Women's Hospital, praying before the icon and meeting with a priest thought to have a healing touch. And the senator again visited the basilica last year, after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"The senator wanted to be buried from the basilica because of a deep connection developed here during his daily visits while his daughter, Kara, was going through cancer treatment, said Scott Ferson, a former Kennedy staffer who is helping the family with funeral preparations. "Because of her recovery, it remained an especially sacred place for him.

The choice of the basilica, a puddingstone Romanesque Revival structure that punctuates the cityscape with its high octagonal cupola and twin spires, came as a surprise to many. . . .

Read the full piece here.

Here is a video tour of the church: