KUSA – It’s one thing to carry furniture through a fancy house. Navigating a giant, 1-ton crate through a cathedral is next level stuff.
Eric Marshall is the owner of Denver’s Landmark Stone International. On Wednesday, he and his crew had a big moving job to get done before mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.
“Everything’s different about [the move], Marshall said. “It’s in a very special place, it’s a very delicate and special, fragile piece.”
Marshall’s crew surrounded the wooden crate in scaffolding and hoisted it with chains and pulleys onto the altar. They used drills and saws to expose the beautiful piece of marble inside.
“The base itself is a ton and then the lid that goes on top of it is about 1,100 pounds,” Marshall said.
Just about what you’d expect a tomb to weigh.
“This is our first tomb!” Marshall laughed.
The large tomb was carefully sculpted in Carrara Italy, designed specifically for Julia Greeley. The former slave came to Denver in the late 1800s to work in the house of Colorado’s first governor. She joined the Catholic church and devoted herself to helping others.
She was known to carry food, clothes and other goods for the poor on a little red wagon, often making deliveries in the middle of the night. She also walked to fire houses across Denver and dropped off religious pamphlets.
“Julia was so humble. She never sought recognition for herself,” said David Uebbing, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Greeley’s been getting a lot of recognition lately. In December 2016, Archbishop Samuel Aquila opened the cause for canonization. In late May of 2017, Greeley’s remains were exhumed at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge. In June, a special mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception celebrated the transfer of Greeley’s remains to the church. Her bones were placed in a wooden chest that was placed beside the altar.
On Wednesday, the chest was placed in the new, marble tomb.
“I think she would kind of laugh over the fuss that we’re sort of making of her,” Uebbing said. “Having a marble tomb is something way more exquisite than she would have ever dreamed of, so I think she’s kind of laughing to herself a little bit.”
Greeley’s sense of humor was shared by the crew that moved her tomb in pretty good time.
“Not every sarcophagus goes this smoothly,” Marshall said.
On June 7, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila will lead a special mass to honor the 100-year anniversary of Julia Greeley’s death. The archdiocese is still working on the sainthood investigation but should finish its part in August. Once the local investigation is complete, the Vatican will take over. Julia Greeley is the first person from Colorado to be proposed a saint.