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.


Our Lady of the Book

“Our Lady wears no dearer look
Than when she’s reading in a book.”

Rogier Van der Weyden

Rogier Van der Weyden

So begins a poem beloved by my book club peep Laurence.  Her friend sent it with a note that it was published in America magazine in 1943.  You may read the whole poem here.

Also on the page, which is part of the Mary pages at University of Dayton,  Fr. Eamon R Carroll, O Carm., offers a wonderful meditation about Our Lady’s association with books:

  • as a reader
  • as “the perfect correspondence between what was foretold in the Bible and its fulfilment in the birth and life of Jesus”
  • and as the book in which the Church finds the truth about God’s ways.

Rogier-van-der-Weyden detailI recommend you take a look at it during this Easter season!  Father Carroll has a thought on the nature of Mary’s pondering in the Gospel of Luke that I especially want to revisit.

Ateliers Brabancons

Ateliers Brabancons

Mary Mother of the Risen Christ and of all readers…..pray for us!


First Catholic Female Author?

4.2.7Saint Perpetua is probably one of the first Catholic Women Authors.

St. Perpetua was a wealthy noblewoman and St. Felicity was her slave.  One had an infant and one was pregnant.  St. Perpetua, while held under house arrest for the crime of being a Christian, wrote the first document by a Catholic Christian Woman author that survives to this day.

St. Perpetua was under a great deal of stress and anxiety from being separated from her baby.  She also suffered a great deal because her father was a pagan who begged her to give in and renounce Jesus Christ to save her life.  A couple of deacons bribed the authorities, who brought her baby, and she lived the rest of her few days in a great deal more peace.

Thanks Communio !

Her father, a pagan, begged her to renounce Jesus Christ and save her life:

‘ “While” says she, “we were still with the persecutors, and my father, for the sake of his affection for me, was persisting in seeking to turn me away, and to cast me down from the faith, – ‘Father,’ said I, ‘do you see, let us say, this vessel lying here to be a little pitcher, or something else?’ And he said, ‘I see it to be so.’ And I replied to him, ‘Can it be called by any other name than what it is?’ And he said, ‘No.’ ‘Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.’ Then my father, provoked at this saying, threw himself upon me, as if he would tear my eyes out. But he only distressed me, and went away overcome by the devil’s arguments. Then, in a few days after I had been without my father, I gave thanks to the Lord; and his absence became a source of consolation8 to me. In that same interval of a few days we were baptized, and to me the Spirit prescribed that in the water of baptism nothing else was to be sought for bodily endurance.9 After a few days we are taken into the dungeon, and I was very much afraid, because I had never felt such darkness. O terrible day! O the fierce heat of the shock of the soldiery, because of the crowds! I was very unusually distressed by my anxiety for my infant. There were present there Tertius and Pomponius, the blessed deacons who ministered to us, and had arranged by means of a gratuity that we might be refreshed by being sent out for a few hours into a pleasanter part of the prison. Then going out of the dungeon, all attended to their own wants.10 I suckled my child, which was now enfeebled with hunger. In my anxiety for it, I addressed my mother and comforted my brother, and commended to their care my son. I was languishing because I had seen them languishing on my account. Such solicitude I suffered for many days, and I obtained for my infant to remain in the dungeon with me; and forthwith I grew strong and was relieved from distress and anxiety about my infant; and the dungeon became to me as it were a palace, so that I preferred being there to being elsewhere.” ‘

Thanks AmyRachelPeterson !

Lent: My Sisters the Saints

"Not merely the stars of pious fairy tales"

“Not merely the stars of pious fairy tales”

Coming up later in March our Lent selection will be My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. is having a drawing for a free book!  On the contest page I found a great video of the author explaining how she came to learn and write about some of the towering women saints:  St. Therese, St. Faustina, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Mother Teresa, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I was surprised as I began to dive into their lives and their writings that they had wrestled with so many of the same problems I had.”

We have read books written by and about some of these saints.

We are looking forward to discussing them, as Campbell explains, “as deep and dear friends and indispensable guides.”