Leonard Murialdo was born in Turin in 1828, eighth child of a well-to-do family. He lost his father at just four years of age. However, he received an excellent Catholic education at the Scolopian College in Savona. As a youth, he went through a profound spiritual crisis which converted him and helped him discover his priestly vocation. In Turin, he took up his philosophical and theological studies. In these years he began to work at the Guardian Angels Oratory, run by his cousin, Fr. Robert Murialdo.
With Don Cafasso and Don Bosco
Thanks to this collaboration he came directly in touch with the problems of Turinese young people: street children, prisoners, chimney sweeps, shop hands. In 1851 he has ordained a priest. He began to work in strict collaboration with Fr Cafasso and Don Bosco and took on the administration of the St. Aloysius Oratory at Don Bosco's request. Leonard breathed the preventive system, incarnated it and applied it in all his future educational works. In 1866 he accepted the administration of the Artigianelli College in Turin dedicated to taking in and providing a Catholic and technical education for poor and abandoned boys. He made many journeys throughout Italy, France and England visiting educational and welfare institutions, to learn, and to address and improve the educational system.
Founder of the Giuseppini
He was amongst those fostering the first popular Catholic Libraries and Catholic Workers Unions and would be their ecclesiastical assistant for many years. In 1873, with the support of some helpers, he founded the Congregation of Saint Joseph (Giuseppini of Murialdo). Their apostolic purpose was the education of youth, especially of poor and abandoned youth. He opened oratories, technical school, family homes for young workers including young farmers, and took on further commitment in lay associations, especially in the field of technical formation of the young and printing works. His motto was: Fare e tacere. He was a spiritual person and a man of prayer, a contemplative in action like Don Bosco.
A father and guide to the young
Towards 1884 he was struck down by multiple attacks of bronchial pneumonia: Don Bosco went to give him his blessing and, despite some relapses, he lived until 1900.
Paul VI beatified him in 1963 and canonised him on 3 May 1970.