Francis Janssens

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The Most Reverend

Francis August Janssens
Archbishop of New Orleans
Archbishop Francis Janssens.jpg
See New Orleans
Installed September 16, 1888
Term ended June 9, 1897
Predecessor Francis Xavier Leray
Successor Placide Louis Chapelle
Other posts Bishop of Natchez (1881-1888)
Ordination December 21, 1867
Consecration May 1, 1881
Personal details
Born (1843-10-17)October 17, 1843
Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands
Died June 9, 1897(1897-06-09) (aged 53)
Aboard the steamer Creole in the Atlantic Ocean

Francis August Anthony Joseph Janssens (October 17, 1843 – June 9, 1897) was a Dutch-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Natchez (1881–1888) and Archbishop of New Orleans (1888–1897).


Francis August Janssens was born in Tilburg, North Brabant, to Cornelius John and Josephine Anne (née Dams) Janssens.[1] He studied at the seminary of 's-Hertogenbosch from 1856 until 1866, when he entered the American College at Louvain, Belgium, with the view of dedicating himself to the American missions.[2] Janssens was ordained to the priesthood on December 21, 1867.[3] Arriving at Richmond, Virginia, in September 1868, he became rector of the cathedral in 1870 and served as vicar general under Bishops James Gibbons and John Joseph Keane.[2]

On April 7, 1881, Janssens was appointed the fourth Bishop of Natchez, Mississippi, by Pope Leo XIII.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following May 1 from Archbishop James Gibbons, with Bishops Thomas Becker and John Keane serving as co-consecrators.[3] During his tenure he completed construction on the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, which had commenced forty years earlier.[2] Janssens was promoted to the fourth Archbishop of New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 7, 1888, and installed on the following September 16.[3] During his tenure he convened the fifth Archdiocesan Synod in May 1889, founded more than twenty-five new parochial schools, dedicated a new preparatory seminary at Gessen in September 1891, and established the Catholic Institute for Deaf and Dumb at Chinchuba in 1890.[1] Janssens significantly reduced the immense debt incurred by Archbishop Napoléon-Joseph Perché; continuing the work of his immediate predecessor Francis Xavier Leray, he reduced it from $324,759 to about $130,000.[2]

Janssens' tenure also spanned the period of hardening racial divisions between whites and blacks.[4] He once said, "There is nothing in my administration of the Diocese that worries me more than our colored people; to see what is done by the Protestants to capture them and how often they succeed."[5] Believing that a separate parish would keep blacks within the Catholic Church and facilitate black leadership just as it had for Irish and German immigrants, Janssens established St. Katharine's Church[6] in 1895 as the first parish designated for black Catholics; attendance, however, was optional.[4] It was, however, his expressed hope "that anyone might occupy any pew or any seat anywhere in the church."[5]

Janssens died aboard the steamer Creole, bound for New York City, aged 53.[2] He is buried at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "JANSSENS, Francis August Anthony Joseph". Louisiana Historical Association. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "New Orleans". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Archbishop Francis August Anthony Joseph Janssens". 
  4. ^ a b "A History of the Archdiocese of New Orleans: The Turn of Century (1888-1918)". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. 
  5. ^ a b Bennett, James B. Religion and the Rise of Jim Crow in New Orleans.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ St. Katharine's Church

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Henry Elder
Bishop of Natchez
Succeeded by
Thomas Heslin
Preceded by
Francis Xavier Leray
Archbishop of New Orleans
Succeeded by
Placide Louis Chapelle