NEW YORK - US Senator Edward Kennedy was mourned Saturday in an elaborate funeral that brought together President Barack Obama and three of his predecessors, American lawmakers, Hollywood stars, sports legends and foreign dignitaries. "We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office," President Obama said in a moving eulogy. "We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy, not for the sake of ambition or vanity, not for wealth or power, but only for the people and the country he loved." Obama praised Kennedy as "a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate -- a man whose name graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 laws himself." Kennedy, he said, "became the greatest legislator of our time." Kennedy himself had chosen the imposing Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for his funeral. He had prayed at the neighborhood church daily while his daughter, Kara, was being treated nearby for lung cancer. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, welcomed the mourners and praised Kennedy as a man who had lived a "life of faith and prayer" and "compassion and service." As part of the service, 10 of Kennedy's children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces took turns reading some of his words in a call and response with the mourners. Kennedy's son, Edward junior, an investment banker, fought back tears as he spoke of how he lost his leg to cancer at age 12, but found his father constantly urging him upward and forward. "He taught me that nothing was impossible," he said. "He was not perfect," he added. "Far from it. But my father believed in redemption. And he never surrendered, never stopped trying to right wrongs." Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and their wives were seated near the front of the ornate basilica. Aides said former President George H.W. Bush, 85, was too frail to make the journey. Vice President Joseph Biden and three of his predecessors -- Al Gore, Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale -- also attended. His grief-striken second wife, Victoria, thanks those who turned up at the funeral on a grey, we afternoon.