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The Sacred Heart Messenger is a monthly publication of the Irish Jesuits, and has been an integral part of Irish life since its foundation 120 years ago.
The story goes that Fr. James Cullen S.J. approached his rector in Belvedere College in Dublin about starting a new publication, and that he was given permission, a small room and a pound note!
From this unpromising start, Fr. Cullen set about gathering material for his magazine, the first issue of which was published in January 1888. ‘When the circulation reaches 2,000,’ Fr. Cullen wrote shortly afterwards, ‘I will cry, “Here goes, in the name of God”.’ In fact, the magazine’s circulation rose to 9,000 by the end of its first year, and continued to rise rapidly in the years following. By 1904, 73,000 copies were being sold each month.
And what of the present? With a circulation of 120,000 per month, the Messenger remains one of the biggest-selling publications produced in Ireland at the present time. Most readers are in Ireland, of course, but substantial numbers are also to be found in Britain, the US , Canada , Australia , Africa and the Far East. Indeed, it would probably be true to say that wherever the Irish went – whether as missionaries or as economic migrants – they brought the Messenger with them.
And the letters pour in: The Messenger has received well over 50,000 of them in the past year, from all corners of the world, many of them testifying to God’s personal help and protection. Obviously, only a handful of these letters can be published each month.
In a world where it’s mostly the bad news that gets aired, the Sacred Heart Messenger is a healthy reminder that goodness continues to triumph in the human spirit.