Saint of the Week: St. Leonard Murialdo
Feast Day: March 30.
Murialdo was born in Turin on 26 October 1828: it was the Turin of St John Bosco and likewise of St Joseph Cottolengo, a land made fruitful by so many examples of holiness among lay people and priests. Leonard was the eighth child of a simple family. As a boy, together with his brother, he entered the College of the Piarist Fathers of Savona for the elementary classes, middle school and secondary school. There he encountered teachers trained in a pious atmosphere, based on serious catechesis with regular devotional practices. Nevertheless in adolescence he went through a profound existential and spiritual crisis that led him to go home sooner than expected and to conclude his studies in Turin, where he enrolled in the two-year philosophy course. His “return to the light” occurred as he recounts after several months with the grace of a general confession in which he rediscovered God’s immense mercy. Then, at the age of 17, he took the decision to become a priest, as a loving response to God who had grasped him with his love. Leonard Murialdo was ordained on 20 September 1851. Precisely in that period, as a catechist of the Oratorio of the Guardian Angel, he came to the attention of Don Bosco who appreciated his qualities and convinced him to accept the directorship of the new Oratorio di San Luigi, in Porta Nuova, which he held until in 1865. There Fr Leonard also came into contact with the grave problems of the poorest classes. He visited their homes, developing a deep social, educational and apostolic sensitivity which led him subsequently to undertake a wide range of projects for youth. Catecheses, school and recreational activities were the foundation of his educational method in the Oratorio. Don Bosco still wanted Leonard with him on the occasion of the Audience that Blessed Pius ix granted to him in 1858.
Click here to read the rest of Pope Benedict XVI’s address on St. Leonard during this April 28, 2010 general audience.