SHARECOMMENTMORE

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Christmas is a time of joy, but for those with hardships, it's far from the most wonderful time of the year.

Across the U.S., churches are increasingly catering to the needs of those struggling to get through the holidays.

The ornate Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis hosted a "Blue Christmas" service on Monday. The goal of the services is to offer spiritual healing for those trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, divorce, economic hardship or other needs.

The concept began about a quarter-century ago and has taken hold nationwide. Some go by the name "Longest Night" because the service is traditionally held on or around the winter solstice.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)