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Denver Archdiocese transfers Julia Greeley’s remains to cathedral

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The exhumation and transfer of her remains is part of the diocesan phase of her cause for canonization

As part of the ongoing investigation into the life of Servant of God Julia Greeley (d. June 7, 1918), the Archdiocese of Denver is transferring the mortal remains of Denver’s “Angel of Charity” to her final resting place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

The transfer ceremony was set for the morning of June 7. The remains were exhumed from her grave at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge beginning May 26.

The multi-day exhumation process, which was conducted privately by the Archdiocese of Denver with the permission of the Vatican, resulted in the recovery of nearly the entire skeleton of the ex-slave known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and her works of charity.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver opened her cause for canonization on Dec. 18, 2016. The exhumation and transfer of her remains is part of the Diocesan Phase of her Cause for Canonization, which is ongoing.

Julia’s cause is overseen by the postulator Waldery Hilgeman, and the vice-postulator David Uebbing, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver.

Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez is presiding at the transfer ceremony, during which the remains of Julia will be presented, and Dr. Christine Pink, Ph.D., a forensic anthropologist of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Human Identification Laboratory, will be present to testify to the integrity of the exhumation process.

The remains will then be placed into a funerary box three-feet long, a foot-and-a-half wide and a foot-and-a-half tall, made of Purpleheart wood.

Certificates authenticating the bones as those of Julia Greeley will be placed in tubes in the funerary box. Additionally, some dirt from her grave at Mount Olivet and a piece of her original coffin will be placed in the box at the Cathedral.

Before the end of the ceremony, the box will be closed and sealed with wax. The box will eventually be on display in a case covered with plexiglass on the front left side of the cathedral.

It will take approximately six months to build a sarcophagus, which will enclose the funerary box.

An ex-slave from Hannibal, Missouri, who found her way to Denver and the Catholic Church in the late 1800s, Julia is the first person the Archdiocese of Denver has proposed for sainthood.

When the diocesan phase of the investigation into Greeley’s possible sainthood closes, the investigators will send a report to the Vatican counting their findings. The Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes will then decide whether to continue along with the process.

[This article is adapted from a press release provided by the Archdiocese of Denver.]

Courtesy of Vivian Imbruglia
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