FORMER SLAVE IS CONSIDERED FOR SAINTHOOD
The Catholic archdiocese in Denver on Sunday launched an investigation of a former slave who worked as a housekeeper for Colorado’s first territorial governor for possible canonization as a saint.
Over the next year, archdiocese officials plan to gather information about Julia Greeley, who was born into slavery in Hannibal, Mo., between 1835 and 1855. Emancipated in 1863, Greeley worked as a housekeeper in St. Louis and, in 1879 and 1880, worked in Denver for Governor William Gilpin.
This is the first cause for canonization that the archdiocese of Denver has investigated, spokeswoman Karna Swanson said. Known in her time as Denver’s “Angel of Charity,” Greeley was not part of a religious order and doesn’t have a congregation to promote her cause, Swanson said. Archbishop Samuel Aquila opened the cause during a mass Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
In Denver, Greeley converted to Catholicism and lived an exemplary life of prayer including service to her neighbors in the Five Points neighborhood and beyond.
The archdiocese has a book by Father Blaine Burkey about Greeley’s deeds, including praying for a friend who could not conceive a child, Swanson said. Greeley apparently prayed for the woman, she said. And a photo in the book shows Greeley holding a blond girl, the daughter of the friend, Swanson said.
Greeley died in 1918 around age 80.
Aquila presented the case for Greeley’s potential sainthood at a conference of U.S. bishops in November. The bishops voted unanimously to allow the archdiocese to proceed with the initial phase of the canonization process — gathering testimony and documentation of Greeley’s life and virtues. She’s one of four people bishops voted to investigate for possible sainthood.
A report will be sent to the Vatican, where officials will decide whether to proceed to further stages. If Greeley makes it to the stage of being called “a venerable,” Catholic officials would begin to investigate possible miracles. She would need to have performed two to be considered for canonization as a saint.