Thousands gathered on the lawn at UVA Wednesday night.

Thousands of people quietly amassed on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville Wednesday night for an unannounced candlelight vigil.

A soft glow illuminated the Rotunda – the iconic historic building at the heart of the University of Virginia.

After a dark week in the city, it was a peaceful protest intended to counter a weekend of deadly violence sparked by a white supremacist rally.

People streamed onto campus, lifting up lit candles. They chanted “love wins” and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Amazing Grace.” A student read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”

On Friday night the campus had been aglow, but with torches wielded by white supremacists shouting racist chants. They faced off with counter protesters around a statue of UVA founder Thomas Jefferson.

The candlelight vigil, which UVA says retraced the steps of the supremacists’ rally, was a rejection of Friday’s scene, says government major Daniel Folsom.

“It was definitely a shock to see a lot of white supremacists surround this statue and surround UVA students some of whom were in the middle of the statue as…