The family of murdered Iraq hostage Ken Bigley including his mother Lil and his wife Sombat, were in Liverpool today for a memorial the service at the city’s Anglican Cathedral.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended and gave a Bible reading from the Book of Corinthians while many Irish politicians also attended.
Mr Bigley, 62, from Walton, Liverpool, was taken hostage by Muslim extremists in Baghdad on September 16 and beheaded more than three weeks later. His body has never been recovered.
As the service opened with the hymn The Lord is my Shepherd, books of condolence were laid on a table, next to a photograph of Mr Bigley, at the chancel steps.
The Dean of Liverpool, Rupert Hoare, welcomed the visitors and words of comfort and compassion were read from Isaiah in the Bible and Surah in the Koran.
Prayers were said for Mr Bigley’s family, the people involved in the current violence in Iraq and Eugene Armstrong and Jack Henley, the American hostages beheaded just days before him.
They said: “Be gracious to those countries that are made desolate by war, famine, disease or persecution, especially we pray for the people of Iraq and for all those working to rebuild that country.
“Grant that the course of the world may be so ordered in obedience to your will that the people may live in security and freedom from want, and their children grow up to be makers of peace.”
Members of Mr Bigley’s family read Death is Nothing at All by poet Henry Scott Holland, and his 10-year-old niece, Hannah, sang Safe in the Father’s Hands with the cathedral’s Centenary Girls’ Choir.
After Mr Blair gave his reading, Ken Bigley’s 65-year-old brother Stan also read from the Bible.
The retired driving instructor read: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
In an address to the cathedral the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, prayed for peace.
He said: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself through the selflessness and mercy of the cross.
“And I know the word Shalom, peace, touches, stirs every Jewish heart, Salaam, peace touches, stirs every Muslim heart, reconciliation and an end to violence is, dare I, may say it: Buddhism.
“But to pray for peace again as Craig Bigley, on behalf of the family, called for on the night we were told of his father’s death requires much of each one of us.
“At a moment of gently ending a chapter in the story of the Bigley family, this city and many, many more thank you for inspiring us not to allow dark days to divide us.”
He added: “But one last word is demanded. Just this once taught by this wonderful city, I dare to say: Lil, God love you, bless you, keep you.”
The Centenary Girls’ Choir sang Holy Father Cheer Our Way, the congregation said the Lord’s Prayer and the memorial service ended with the hymn God is Love.