ROME (Reuters) - Professors and students took part in a candlelit vigil at a Rome church on Thursday for American student Beau Solomon, who police suspect was murdered.

Solomon had been due to start a study program at the American John Cabot University in Trastevere but his body was found tangled in vegetation in the Tiber River on Monday, three days after he went missing.

Hymns were sung at the vigil, which was held at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere with representatives of the U.S. embassy present.

"We are here tonight ... to pray together and we do it with our heart broken because of the unfair and painful death of Beau," parish priest Marco Gnavi told the congregation.

A homeless Italian man was detained on Tuesday on suspicion of murdering the 19-year-old American university student from Wisconsin.

Solomon's parents were consoled by Pope Francis on Wednesday but were not present at Thursday's vigil.

"It is important to be here in Rome and pray now that the family has flown back to the United States so that we can sort of substitute them in this place where he died to show the respect and affection that he deserved," Franco Pavoncello, Director of the University, said.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Editing by Patrick Johnston)