Black Catholic History: Julia Greeley

At Least We’re Here is a book club of 10 women who read only Catholic women authors.  Read more here

We have never actually read about Julia Greeley.

Julia lived in Denver from the time she moved here from Missouri as an ex-slave until she died in 1918 on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which happened to be her beloved devotion.  She arrived not knowing her birth date or even her age and blinded in one eye by the whip of a slave owner.

This is the only known photo of Julia

This is the only known photo of Julia

Gina indexed the biography of Julia Greeley!

Instead we have a more interesting connection to her recently published story which was written by Fr. Blain Burkey, O.F.M., Cap.  One of our members, Gina, is a professional indexer, which means she breaks down all the subjects in a book or document into the index you see in the back.  Gina was honored to be chosen to index the 2011 book “In Secret Service of the Sacred Heart: Remembering the Life and Virtues of Denver’s Angel of Charity, Julia Greeley, O.F.S.” and she wrote about it in this guest post.

I have been to Julia’s grave at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, CO

Next time I go I’ll be sure to get a photo for you! Growing up in Denver I’m sure I walked on or near some of the same spots where she traveled the streets and alleyways, dropping off items needed by poor families but doing so anonymously so as not to hurt anyone’s pride.  I am even very sure my Grandma Sara’s parents knew about her as they were parishioners at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, not far from Julia’s parish, Sacred Heart.  Maybe they even saw her or met her at one time!

The National Black Catholic Congress site has a page dedicated to her. 

They tell of many acts of love and charity Julia regularly gave, one of which was to gather the cast off dresses of rich women and give them to poor single working women so they could attend social gatherings and church without shame.  Julia had a deep and holy sense of protecting others from shame and wounded pride.

Denver’s 9News aired this report earlier this year.

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