Wadding, Michael (1591–1644), catholic missionary and mystic, was the son of Thomas Wadding of Waterford city and his wife, Mary Walsh. Thomas was a successful lawyer who served as chief justice of Tipperary and as mayor of Waterford in 1596, and provided legal advice to Sir George Carew (qv), lord president of Munster. He was a staunch catholic and his houses in Waterford city and in King's Meadow, Co. Waterford, acted as sanctuaries for priests. Inspired by the suffering and labours of these priests, Michael appears to have been set from an early age on a career in the clergy. About 1605 Michael went to the Irish college at Lisbon where he studied for two years, before joining the Irish seminary at Salamanca in September 1607. However, he left the seminary to join the Society of Jesus at Villagarcia on 15 April 1609. There he became a disciple of the renowned theologian and mystic Father Suarez. Wadding quickly decided he wanted to become a missionary in Mexico. On 15 May 1610 he was granted permission to do so, and he travelled to Mexico later the same year. He changed his name to Miguel Godinez, most likely for the convenience of his Spanish colleagues.
In Mexico he continued his studies and in 1612 he became professor in the college of Mexico. In 1618 he was sent on the mission to Sinaloa, a province on the extreme western coast of Mexico, facing the Gulf of California. Over the next eight years he endured an extremely harsh environment and the hostility to Christianity of many of the local tribes. On two occasions he had to flee for his life and he witnessed the death of two Jesuit colleagues and his own servant boy at the hands of the natives. After 1624 a plague wreaked havoc in the region and the missionaries were preoccupied mainly with tending to the sick and dying. He was particularly impressed by the spirituality of his fellow missionaries, and how many of them had ecstatic spiritual experiences during their period in the wilderness. Despite all the difficulties, he enjoyed some success and is credited with converting the Basiroas tribe. He was recalled from the mission soon after making his final profession of the four vows at Jepotzolan in Sinaloa on 12 April 1626.
By the year's end he was acting as professor of philosophy in the seminary at St Ildefonso at Puebla de los Angeles. Thereafter he appears as rector of the Jesuit college of Guatemala (1638) and as rector of the college of Puebla de los Angelus (1640). While he was teaching theology, he compiled his Treatise on mystic theology, which was based mainly on his experiences in Sinaloa. In Mexico he was widely regarded as a holy man and was distinguished for his knowledge of mystic theology. His Treatise was eventually published in 1681 and went through ten editions. Wadding died in Mexico 18 December 1644.