The Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D.
The Most Reverend Leonard Paul Blair, born in Detroit on April 12, 1949, was named the Fifth Archbishop of Hartford on October 29, 2013, and installed in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph on December 16, 2013.
Archbishop Blair was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 26, 1976, following studies at Sacred Heart Seminary College, Detroit; the North American College, Rome; and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. Archbishop Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History from Sacred Heart Seminary College; a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) from the Pontifical Gregorian University; a Licentiate in Theology (S.T.L.) with a specialization in Patristics and the History of Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University; and a Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome.
Archbishop Blair’s parish assignments in the Archdiocese of Detroit were St. Martin de Porres, Warren; Our Lady of Queen of Peace, Harper Woods; St. Christopher, Detroit; and St. Paul, Grosse Pointe Farms, where he served as Pastor at the time of his ordination as a Bishop. Other assignments included: Instructor in Church History and Patristics, Saint John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth; Archivist for the Archdiocese of Detroit; Administrative Secretary to the Archbishop of Detroit; Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Consultor; Dean of Studies and Assistant Professor of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary College, Detroit; Ecumenical Officer of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Assignments in Rome were in the Vatican Secretariat of State, and later the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See as Secretary to Edmund Cardinal Szoka.
Over the years Archbishop Blair has served on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Committee on Women in Society & the Church; the Committee on Catechesis; and the Subcommittee on the Catechism, which he chaired. As of November, 2014, he will chair the Committee on Evangelization & Catechesis, and serve as a member of the Doctrine Committee, the Committee on Divine Worship, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.
Archbishop Blair’s Coat of Arms
By Deacon Paul J. Sullivan
Arms impaled. Dexter: Gules, at the nombril point a fess bary wavy of six, Argent and Azure, thereupon a stag Or holding in his forepaw a Paschal Banner Proper. Sinister: Or, a cross throughout Sable thereupon to chief two keys and a sword, per saltire, interlaced, to sinister and dexter a star and in base a fleur-de-lis all Argent; at the center on an escutcheon Gules a lion rampant holding in his forepaw a heart of the first.
The archepiscopal heraldic achievement, or archbishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield, which is the central and most important part of the design, a scroll with a motto and the external ornamentation. The design is described (blazoned) as if the description was being given by the bearer (from behind) with the shield being worn on the left arm. Thus, it must be remembered, where it applies, as the device is viewed from the front that the terms sinister and dexter are reversed.
By heraldic tradition, the arms of the bishop of a diocese, called a “diocesan bishop” or in an ecclesiastical province where the bishop of a certain diocese serves as the “first-among-equals” in that province and is called the “Metropolitan Archbishop,” their are joined (impaled) with the arms of their jurisdiction, in this case the Archdiocese of Hartford, that are seen in the dexter impalement (left side) of the design.
The arms of the archdiocese are referred to as “canting,” (armes pariantes) or “playing on” the name of the See City. Here, on a red field is a golden deer, sometimes called a “hart,” that is standing in a river crossing, of silver (white) and blue, known as a “ford.” Thus, the play is on the name deer-crossing or Hartford. The hart is carrying a Paschal banner, that is described as “Proper, meaning “as it always appears” (gold pole with a burgee (notched-end flag) of white, charged with a red cross). Here the stag is carrying the standard of The Faith across the representation of water, that being the Connecticut River that runs through the See City.
For his personal arms, His Excellency, Archbishop Blair continues to use the arms that he adopted upon his being chosen to receive the fullness of Christ’s priesthood when he was called to be an Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and which he retained during his tenure as Bishop of Toledo.
These arms are composed of a gold (yellow) field on which is displayed a black cross throughout, with two silver (white) stars on the cross members, taken from the arms of the Archdiocese of Detroit. In the base of the cross is a fleur-de-lis, for the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the chief are two keys crossed and interlaced with a sword, for the apostles of Peter and Paul. These two charges are emblematic of the church’s constitution of being Marian and Apostolic.
In the center of the cross is a small shield called an escutcheon. It is red and charged with a gold lion, to cant on the Archbishop’s Baptismal patron, Saint Leonard. The lion holds in his forepaw a heart, to honor the Sacred Heart titular of the major seminary where Archbishop Blair studied and later served on the faculty. The lion also appears in the arms of the Pontifical North American College, in Rome, where the Archbishop did his advanced theological studies.
For his motto, His Excellency Archbishop Blair has retained the phrase “PASCE OVES MEAS.” The phrase, is taken from Saint John;s Gospel (Jn. 21:15ff) which translates “feed” or “tend my sheep.” These are the words that were addressed by Christ to Saint Peter about love and denial and as The Church was entrusted to Saint Peter this phrase becomes the magna carta of pastoral charity and the mission of the church’s pastors.
The achievement is completed by the external ornamentation which are a gold (yellow) archiepiscopal processional cross, (with two cross members) that is placed in back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and the pontifical hat, called a “galero,” with its ten tassels in four rows on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop, by instruction of The Holy See, of March 31, 1969.