The Irish Sacred Heart Messenger is celebrating its 125th birthday with a special edition.
The January issue features the cover of
the very first magazine, published in January 1888, and inside there
are photographs from the past.
It also includes the story of the central
role played by the promoters of the magazine by Donal Neary SJ and the
first of a series of 30 articles by Brian Grogan SJ, on the life of the
world to come, based on his recently published book; 'Where to From
Here? The Christian Vision of Life After Death.'
"125 years ago Fr James Cullen, a Jesuit, wished that the minds and
heart of the people of 1888 could be touched, just as Jesus touched
minds and hearts back in Galilee. Maybe he got the idea after Ireland
was consecrated to the Sacred Heart on Palm Sunday 1873. We may even
have been the first country to be dedicated... And we are proud to say
that it has been published in an unbroken series ever since, and in the
same spirit in which it was founded." said John Looby SJ, Messsenger
Fr Cullen put his whole heart into founding The Messenger, and as he
wanted it to be available to everyone it only cost a penny, and it has
remained inexpensive ever since according to Fr Looby.
The circulation target in the first year was 7000 and it was 9,000.
"Now with a world-wide readership, it celebrates its 125th birthday
thanks to new generations of promoters and the creative spirit of God
who wished it into being and has sustained it to this day," said Fr
Today the circulation is around 120,000, making the Messenger one of
the best selling publications produced in Ireland. Most readers are in
Ireland but some are also in Britain, the US , Canada , Australia,
Africa and the Far East.
It seems that wherever the Irish went, whether
as missionaries or as economic migrants, they brought the Messenger with
them. The magazine's production team receives over 50,000 letters per
year, from all corners of the world but only a handful can be published
The Messenger has also moved with the times.
In October 2009 it
temporarily abandoned its traditional trademark red colour for the first
time ever and went pink to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month. The
pink edition had a special focus on breast cancer and includes a feature
article by Carita Kerr entitled “Me and My Cancer: A Personal Journey.”
Ten percent of all new postal subscriptions taken out in the month of
October were donated to the charity Action Breast Cancer.
“The Messenger receives thousands of letters every month and many of
those letters leave us in no doubt about the prevalence of cancer and in
particular breast cancer in Ireland. So we wanted to signal our concern
and show our readiness to help,” said John Looby, S.J, at the time.
The magazine has been gradually modernizing appearance over the last
few years with a revamped logo, and a fresher more accessible design to
match the more contemporary tone of the articles.
Other new features
have included articles by celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna, and
Children’s Art Competition to design The Messenger’s Christmas card.
The Messenger has its own in-house publishing facilities and
publishes magazines such as An Timire, in the Irish language, as well as
other books including prayer books for schools.
It manages its entire
print process from design conception to published product, including
advice on all aspects of print production down to suitable paper stocks,
weights and binding, with an eye on the target audience.
It also has
its own website: www.messenger.ie