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Julia Greeley Icon Print

Servant of God Julia Greeley

Julia Greeley was born into slavery in Hannibal, Missouri.  The exact year of her birth is not known, somewhere between 1835 and 1855. When she was a young girl she lost her right eye to an injury from a slavedriver’s whip. She was freed at the end of the Civil War in 1865 and worked in St. Louis as a maid.

In 1879 Julia Greeley moved to Denver, Colorado where she worked as a nanny and  housekeeper for Mrs. Dickerson, a wealthy widow. The next year, in 1880, Julia was received into the Catholic Church as Sacred Heart Church in Denver. There she became an active member of the community engaged in many charitable works, bringing food and other necessities to families in need at any time of the day or night. As a result of her work she was called “Denver’s Angel of Charity”. She also continued to work as a nanny and housekeeper, with a special place in her heart for children.

Julia became a Third Order Franciscan in 1901 and sought to imitate St. Francis in her care for the poor and love of Jesus. She died on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 7, 1918. She had given away her own burial plot to a poor man who would otherwise have been given a pauper’s burial. 

In 2014 the Archdiocese of Denver opened a cause for Julia Greeley’s canonization as a saint. He body was moved to be buried in Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in 2017. She is the first and only person to be interred in the Denver cathedral.

Servant of God Julia Greeley is shown here holding a child as she so often did in life, and the child is holding a rosary. Above Julia’s head is the Sacred Heart. During her life she had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart, and it was also in Sacred Heart Parish that Julia was received into the Church and laid in state after her death. At the top of the image are the mountains which provide the skyline of Julia’s adopted home of Denver.

The crest at the bottom of the image is topped with the Eucharist, to which Julia Greeley was deeply devoted as a daily communicant. The crest also contains the Franciscan coat of arms, memorializing Julia’s work as a Third Order Franciscan. There is also a fire fighter’s helmet and set of tools, recalling Julia’s work evangelizing the city’s fire fighters. And finally a small red wagon which Julia would use when bringing supplies to the city’s poor.

This image was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Denver

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