Bishop Francis August Janssens

Born: Oct. 17, 1843 – Holland
Ordained a Priest for Richmond: Dec. 21, 1867
Ordained a Bishop: May 1, 1881
Archbishop of New Orleans: Aug. 7, 1888
Died: June 9, 1897
Episcopal Motto: God Is My Strength

Francis August Janssens was appointed the fourth Bishop of Natchez in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.

During his administration he established a mission among the Choctaws at Tucker, creating a school staffed by three Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Charity began teaching African-American children in the original presbytery during this time. Bishop Janssens also dedicated St. Joseph School during his tenure.

Bishop Janssens focused on the completion of the cathedral, contracting for the building of the sacristy and installing a pipe organ. He replaced the picket fence with an iron fence. He hired artist A. Biorci to paint the Crucifixion over the main altar. With the completion of the cathedral and the retiring of its debt, the cathedral was consecrated on September 19, 1886. The following year, New Stations of the Cross and memorial windows were installed and a contract was let to fresco the interior.

Janssens Coat001

In 1877, Father Grignon, after 37 years of service under three bishops, died, and Father Theophile Meerschaert was appointed vicar general. Father Meerschaert would later be named the first Bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma.

In 1888, after seven years in Mississippi, Bishop Janssens was transferred to New Orleans to become Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. During his tenure, the diocese grew in mission churches, priests, and Catholics. Catholic education was a hallmark of his time in Mississippi. When he arrived in 1881, there were 15 schools; when he left for New Orleans seven years later, there were 26.