Julia Greeley, Denver's Angel of Charity, was born into slavery, at Hannibal, Missouri, sometime between 1833 and 1848. While she was still a young child, a cruel slavemaster, in the course of beating her mother, caught Julia's right eye with his whip and destroyed it.
Freed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Julia subsequently earned her
keep by serving white families in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico—though
mostly in the Denver area. Whatever she did not need for herself, Julia spent assisting
poor families in her neighborhood. When her own resources were inadequate, she begged
for food, fuel and clothing for the needy. One writer later called her a "one-
Julia entered the Catholic Church at Sacred Heart Parish in Denver in 1880, and was
an outstanding supporter of all that the parish had to offer. The Jesuits who ran
the parish considered her the most enthusiastic promoter of devotion to the Sacred
Heart of Jesus they had ever seen. Every month she visited on foot every fire station
in Denver and delivered literature of the Sacred Heart League to the firemen, Catholics
A daily communicant, Julia had a rich devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin and continued her prayers while working and moving about. She joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1901 and was active in it till her death in 1918.
As she lived in a boarding house, Julia's body was laid out in church, and immediately many hundreds of people began filing pass her coffin to pay their grateful respect. She was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery (sect. 8, Block 7), and to this day many people have been asking that her cause be considered for canonization.
Sacred Heart Parish in Denver, Colorado where Julia Greeley entered the Catholic Church
Black History Month: Former slave could become a saint
Featuring interviews of author, Fr. Blaine Burkey, O.F.M.Cap. and Mary Leisring, president of the Julia Greeley Guild, by journalist TaRhonda Thomas and photojournalist Byron Reed of NBC’s 9News, Denver.
Julia Greeley Guild ©2012. All Rights Reserved.