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Denver, Colorado: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception & tomb of Servant of God Julia Greeley

 

About the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver:

Created in the Gothic style, it is a masterpiece of construction.   The front doors are made of brass and the altars, pedestals, statues, pulpit, bishop’s throne and communion rail are made from he finest Carrara marble from Italy. At the top of each interior column, a trinity of ribs spring from a cluster of marble wheat and grapes. These ribs support the Gothic vaulted ceiling.

There more than 75 stained-glass windows, with magnificent color, crafted in Munich, Germany, …..the most of any church in the U.S.

The tomb of Servant of God Julia Greeley:

Certainly a unique feature of the Basilica is that there is only one person entombed hereNOT a bishop, NOT a priest, NOT a prominent citizen, but a former slave…..Julia Greeley.  Her story is an amazing one of self-sacrifice and Christian charity.

Photo of Julia Greeley
Archival photo from Denver Catholic

Blinded in one eye from a whipping she received from a slave master who was actually whipping her mother, she got the nickname “one-eyed Julia” but was what many called “an angel of charity”.  The former slave, emancipated in 1865, came to Denver in the late 1800’s and worked in the house of Colorado’s first governor, William Gilpin. She joined the Catholic church in 1880 at Denver’s Sacred Heart Church, was a daily Communicant (she called the Eucharist “her breakfast”),  and devoted herself to helping others.

After leaving the Gilpins’ service, Greeley did odd jobs cooking, cleaning and caring for children.  But her charitable work is what she is known most for.  She became a familiar sight on Denver streets, dressed in humble clothing, floppy hat and over-sized shoes, pulling a red wagon that was filled with items she bought, found or begged for the needy. She frequently delivered the goods — often to poor white families — under cover of night, in order to remain anonymous and not embarrass the recipients.

She also walked to fire houses across Denver and dropped off religious pamphlets.

She died on June 7, 1918 (She was 70-85 — she didn’t know when she was born).  Hundreds of families….black and white…rich and poor…attended her funeral.  Her body lay in state in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Denver, the first time a layperson’s body lay in state in a Catholic church.

Tomb of Julia Greeley in DenverThe Servant of God’s bones were transferred to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in 2017, where they were received by Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez in a solemn ceremony. After the creation of third-class relics, the bones were placed in a redheart-wood funerary chest within a marble tomb, which was permanently placed in the northwest corner of the transept, where the faithful may now privately reverence Julia’s bones and invoke her intercession.

Photo courtesy Anya Semenof 

For more information about Julia Greeley check out The Julia Greeley Guild.

Finding the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver:

Address:  1535 Logan Street, Denver, Colorado 80203

Tel:  +1 (303) 831-7010

email:  use contact form on their website

Click here for the official website of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.

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