Campaign for Sainthood for a Former Slave


Reading Time: 2 minutes
Julia Greeley Mass at Sacred Heart Church (YouTube screenshot)

Denver’s Roman Catholic archdiocese is campaigning for sainthood for a former slave known for her service to neighbors. Julia Greeley is remembered as Denver’s ‘Angel of Charity‘.

A Mass was held earlier this month at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception where Greeley was proclaimed a Servant of God.


The only known photo of Julia Greeley (


She was born into slaver in the mid-1800’s and freed by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.  It is written that Greeley  would  go on to earn her keep by serving white families in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, and settled in the Denver area around 1880.

She worked as the housekeeper for the first territorial governor of Colorado, William Gilpin, and was known for her charity work.


The  Julia Greeley Guild writes:

“Her charity was so great that only God knows its extent. She was constantly visiting the poor and giving them assistance from her own slender means. When she found their needs so great that she could not help them with her own goods, she begged for them.

Her charity was as delicate as it was great. She realized that white people, no matter how poor, might feel a little sensitive in receiving assistance from an old colored woman, so she went at night to their homes to deliver the goods she had begged, in order to keep the neighbors from seeing her. She had even been seen going thru the streets at night with a mattress on her back. Many and many a times she was seen carrying coal and groceries. Yet she was so poor herself that the city charity department had been furnishing her with fuel and groceries.”

Watch video about Julia Greeley’s life:

Julia Greeley Guild


Greeley is one of four people that U.S. bishops voted to allow to be investigated for possible sainthood at their fall meeting.

The first step in the process involves gathering testimony and documentation about her life. A report will then be sent to the Vatican, which will decide whether to proceed.



advanced divider
advanced divider