First archbishop of New Orleans, Louisiana; b. Sury, France, Oct. 11, 1792; d. New Orleans, June 20, 1860. Blanc was ordained in Lyons, France, by Bp. Louis W. Dubourg of Louisiana on July 22, 1816 and accompanied the prelate on his return to the United States in 1817.
First appointed a missionary for Vincennes, he labored in Indiana until February of 1820. He spent the next 40 years in Louisiana, first as a parish priest with his brother, Rev. John Baptist Blanc, in Pointe Coupee, the Felicianas, and Baton Rouge (1820–30); then as vicar-general to his immediate predecessor, Bp. Leo de Neckère, with residence in New Orleans (1830–33). There, he served as administrator of the diocese (1833–35), bishop (1835–50), and finally archbishop (1850–60).
During Blanc's tenure as ordinary, New Orleans more than tripled its population. He established 18 parishes for Creole, German, Irish, and English-speaking congregations in the see city and its environs, and 30 in rural Louisiana. Until Natchez (now Natchez-Jackson) and Natchitoches (now Alexandria) were created dioceses in 1837 and 1853 respectively, his jurisdiction embraced both Mississippi and Louisiana. For a time (1838–40) he had charge of the Church in Texas.
Lay trusteeism at St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, and elsewhere, the threat of schism, the recrudescence of nativism in the 1850s, the anti-Catholic bias of know-nothingism, and the imminence of secession by the South were among his most grievous ordeals. The challenge by the trustees of the bishop's right to appoint pastors was checked by the Louisiana Supreme Court on June 8, 1844, but only after the cathedral had been interdicted (1842). The court decision vindicated the bishop but failed to uproot lay trusteeism in the state.
On July 19, 1850, New Orleans became an archdiocese, and Blanc its first archbishop. He received the pallium in St. Patrick's Church on Feb. 16, 1851. Despite a leg fracture suffered while engaged in yellow fever relief work in 1858, he remained active until his death, which came suddenly a few hours after he had offered Mass in his chapel.
Bibliography: r. baudier, The Catholic Church in Louisiana (New Orleans 1939).
[h. c. bezou]