Have a devotion to Julia Greeley? The archdiocese wants to hear from you

You can help the Archdiocese of Denver in the cause for canonization of the Servant of God Julia Greeley, if you, or someone you know, had a devotion to this holy woman before 2011.

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints states that the person considered for beatification must enjoy “an authentic and widespread reputation of holiness… as well as an authentic and widespread reputation of intercessory power.”

As part of the investigation into Julia’s life and virtues, the archdiocese is collecting documentation on Julia Greeley’s reputation of holiness and intercessory prayer to send to Rome.

Since the Congregation requires her reputation of holiness to be “spontaneous” and not “artificially produced,” the devotion must have started prior to the 2011 foundation of The Julia Greeley Guild, which works to extend awareness of Julia Greeley and encourage people to ask for her intercession.

You can aid her cause by sending a testimonial to the archdiocese describing your long-standing devotion to her.

Greeley, the former slave who came to Denver and joined the Catholic Church in the late 1800s, is the first person the Archdiocese of Denver has proposed for sainthood.

June will mark the 100th death anniversary of Denver’s “Angel of Charity,” who walked the streets of the city promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart and visiting and helping the poor.

Her parish priest, Father Charles A. McDonnell, said she had been charitable to an astonishing degree and her devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist was marvelous.

Greeley constantly visited the poor and begged to help them. She went to the extent of visiting them at night if they were sensitive about receiving help from an old colored woman and was commonly seen carrying groceries or coal to give to those in need.

“Her charity was as delicate as it was great,” her obituary states. “She loved children with that intensity found in saints… Her marvelous piety and her constant charity made her the friend of everybody.”

She exemplified three qualities of holiness throughout her life: humility, perseverance and faith, Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez said during the transfer ceremony, in which her remains were moved from Mount Olivet Cemetery to Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in December 2016.

Please send your testimonials to David Uebbing, vice-postulator of Julia’s Cause, at vicepostulator@archden.org.

COMING UP: Former slave Julia Greeley first to be buried at Denver’s Cathedral

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In what was a historic first for the Archdiocese of Denver, the exhumed remains of a potential saint were laid to rest at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception June 7.

The canonization process for the Servant of God Julia Greeley was opened Dec. 18, and as part of the process, her remains were exhumed from Mt. Olivet Cemetery May 26-31. After careful examination by an anthropologist, her remains were transferred to the cathedral, where they will remain permanently.

Denver Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez presides over the Transfer of the Remains Ceremony for Servant of God Julia Greeley at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

A transfer ceremony, presided over by Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez, was held to honor the laywoman, who is the first person to be buried at the cathedral. The ceremony took place on the 99th anniversary of Greeley’s death.

“[Julia Greeley] will be the first person buried in Denver’s cathedral. Not a bishop, not a priest – a laywoman, a former slave. Isn’t that something?” Bishop Rodriguez said to an applauding congregation.

Greeley exemplified three qualities of holiness throughout her life, Bishop Rodriguez said: humility, perseverance and faith. She was known for walking the streets of Denver, handing out Sacred Heart pamphlets to firefighters and delivering goods to poor families. What wasn’t known, however, was that she suffered from arthritis – a fact revealed by the exhumation and examination of her bones.

Members of the congregation venerate the mortal remains of Servant of God Julia Greeley during the Transfer of the Remains Ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

“We know from the stories passed on to us that Julia Greeley was tireless in her charity and in spreading the faith,” Bishop Rodriguez explained. “What we didn’t know until the exhumation is that Julia suffered from arthritis in her hands, feet, back…almost every joint that could have hurt, probably did. Nevertheless, she never stopped practicing and doing and showing love.”

Dr. Christine Pink, the forensic anthropologist responsible for the exhumation of Greeley’s remains, confirmed that Greeley did indeed suffer from arthritis.

“The finding of arthritis was special just given what we know about her walking to all the fire stations and doing what she did. She likely was in pain, and joyful despite that,” Pink said.

Dr. Christine Pink, a forensic anthropologist with Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Gary Schaaf prepare to process into the Cathedral with mortal remains of Servant of God Julia Greeley of the Transfer of the Remains Ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

The bishop spoke of the hope that the ceremony represented – hope that because of Christ’s conquering of the grace, the dead will one day, too, be resurrected.

“Our ceremony today is just a very small confession that we believe in resurrection of the body and in the communion of saints. This is why we are here in this place,” he said. “We are saying those bones will rise on the last day, and today, we are particularly united to Julia Greeley.”

[Julia Greeley] will be the first person buried in Denver’s cathedral. Not a bishop, not a priest – a laywoman, a former slave. Isn’t that something?”

The remains of Julia Greeley were placed in a custom made wooden funerary box, and the faithful were invited to view them. As people came up, they would bow in reverence, kiss the funerary box and even place cloths, rosaries and other items on the case that housed her remains. Those items could become third-class relics should Julia Greeley be canonized a saint.

After the viewing, the box was screwed shut by a carpenter, sealed with gold wax and placed underneath the Sacred Heart statue in the side chapel to the west of the main altar.

The Transfer of the Remains Ceremony for Servant of God Julia Greeley at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

The day had come sooner than expected for some.

“This is a great day. We never thought it would come so soon when we started to move things, but God certainly had his own plan,” said Capuchin Friar Father Blaine Burkey, whose book In Secret Service of the Sacred Heart: The Life and Virtues of Julia Greeley is likely the most extensive volume compiled about Julia Greeley’s life.

Members of the congregation venerate the mortal remains of Servant of God Julia Greeley during the Transfer of the Remains Ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

Mary Leisring, president of the Julia Greeley guild, was overjoyed to see the cathedral full of so many devoted to Greeley.

“Whether she gets to be a saint in Rome or not does not matter to me, she’s already my saint,’ Leisring said.