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By John Christopher Gleeson
Jan 24th, 2023

Madonna Magazine celebrated its 125th year last year and there was a new book launched as a tribute to this achievement.  “Wings for the Soul” is a book of editorials, compiled as a grateful tribute to all the Jesuit Editors of Madonna Magazine, full-time and part-time, and their Associate editors who have put it together with great vision and colour over the 125-year journey.

“Wings for the Soul” is a skilful attempt to highlight one of the fundamentals of Ignatian spirituality – namely, God’s abundant presence in the ordinariness of our daily lives.

In October 2020, during the challenges of the Covid pandemic lockdowns, Andrew Hamilton, one of our most gifted Jesuit writers in the public forum, had this to say about the history of Madonna:

“Madonna is one of the longest surviving Catholic magazines. First published in 1897, it has had an important part in Catholic life. Its initial publication was a sign of hope for the Catholic community as it suffered in the Great Depression of the 1890s. Jesuits Fr John Ryan, a visionary planner and canny administrator, and Fr Michael Watson, a gifted writer and speaker, saw in it a complement to the widespread parish Sodalities of Our Lady. It helped people to pray and deepen their faith by providing attractive material for prayer and reflection that touched their daily lives. Each edition included short stories, poems, advice about the ordinary challenges of family life, suggestions about cooking, sewing and raising families.

It also provided news about the wider Church, and particularly about Ireland which was still the spiritual home for many Catholics. It covered, too, the public issues of the day that bore on Catholics, particularly on the right to Catholic schooling. Because it saw its readers not as isolated individuals but as members of the Madonna community, it was conversational in its style.”

Madonna is a magazine of spiritual reading for lay people. It aims to enhance the spiritual development of its readers. A primary focus of each issue of Madonna is the church’s liturgy, especially the scripture readings for each day. Through personal stories and reflections, it demonstrates the presence of God in our everyday lives. It develops knowledge and appreciation of the Christian faith through informative articles on Christian beliefs, history, spirituality and practice.

Madonna Magazine draws especially on the traditions of spirituality that are associated with St Ignatius of Loyola.