Updated: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 08:28:03 GMT | By Andrew Mach, NBC News

Cardinal: Teacher who gave her life is 'like Jesus'



A nation mourns after the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 20 children and six staff members dead.

A nation mourns after the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Sandy Hook Elementary, which left 20 children and six staff members dead.

A Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who died cradling a special-needs student in her arms was laid to rest Thursday, with one of the nation’s top religious leaders speaking about how the world was “awed” by her sacrifice.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral for Anne Marie Murphy, 52, a married mom of four, in Katonah, N.Y., where she lived before moving to Newtown, Conn.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who presided over the Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, compared Murphy’s sacrifice to that of Jesus Christ.

"Like him, she has brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death,” Dolan said, according to the Associated Press. 

"Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends," Dolan said. "Like Jesus, Annie's life and death brings light, truth, goodness and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death."

When Adam Lanza’s rampage at Sandy Hook was over, authorities found 6-year-old Dylan Hockley “wrapped in the arms” of Murphy, his special-education teacher, the child’s parents said in a statement.

"We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died,” they said. “Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed at her picture on our refrigerator every day."

A statement from Murphy’s family, read by her brother-in law Thomas Newman across the street from the white-steepled church, expressed sympathy for the loved ones of all 20 children and six staffers killed in Friday’s massacre.

“[We] pray for all the families touched so terribly, that God may help these feelings of such great pain and grief pass quickly, that they may be replaced with only happy thoughts and joyous memories of those we have lost,” they said.

There was another wave of wakes and funerals in Newtown and surrounding towns with poignant scenes including Boy Scout leaders lining the path to Trinity Episcopal Church, where 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler’s tiny casket was carried by his uncles.

The Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd told the crowd the crime was “inexplicable in human terms,” according to the Stamford Advocate. Benjamin’s life was cut too short by a "sick young man with access to weapons that should never, ever be in a home," she said.

Trees outside the Sacred Heart Church in Southbury were festooned with green balloons, because that was 6-year-old Allison Wyatt’s favorite color.

"She was goofy," the Rev. Walter L. Pitman said, according to the Stamford Advocate.  "She was funny. She had her two grandfathers wrapped around her finger and she knew it."

At St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, 6-year-old Catherine Hubbard was eulogized by her mother, Jennifer, who recalled how the little redhead asked Santa for animals every Christmas.

The priest, Msgr. Robert Weiss, said Catherine’s brother, Freddy, worried how he would know he was on the right school bus without his kid sister around.

“Just look up and she’ll give you a wink,” Weiss said, according to the Middletown Press.

“Oh she already did? She got there fast.”

Services were also held for Lauren Rousseau, 30, a full-time substitute teacher at Sandy Hook, and Jesse Lewis, 6, a first-grader who loved horses.

A public memorial for Emilie Parker, 6, who was born in Utah, was held Thursday evening in Ogden, Utah, NBC station KSL reported. Nearly 1,000 people attended.

"It means a lot," Robbie Parker said, according to KSL. "We love you guys. Thank you for being here."

He said he remembered going for walks with Emilie. "We could never make it very far because she always had to stop and pick all of the flowers," he said.

A private funeral service for Lanza’s mother was held in New Hampshire, and about two dozen relatives attended, a police source told NBC News. Nancy Lanza was shot multiple times in the head before her son stormed the school.

It wasn’t clear if anyone was prepared to claim Adam Lanza’s body.

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