The style with which Saint Leonard Murialdo lived his educational apostolate among poor young people is inspired by the values of Christian pedagogy, but also responds to the suggestions that come from the environment in which he lives; it has its roots in the gifts of his heart and his mind, but it also feeds on his profound inner experience.

For this reason his spirituality (the discovery of the personal and merciful love of God) nourishes not only his prayer and his life as a priest and religious, but also informs his educational style, illuminates the objectives and clarifies the methods of his activity among the kids. In him spirituality and pedagogy interact and mutually enrich each other.


God loves us

The joyful discovery of God's mercy after the youth crisis in Savona was the center around which his interior experience and his entire existence would gradually be unified.

Many years later, in the spiritual Testament, he will recall his "conversion": "in 1843, on my return from the college of Savona, true prodigal son, laden with a thousand sins, I came to confess to you: - Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you -. Then you opened your paternal heart to my prayer, you listened to this prayer, and you returned to possession of a soul destined to be your temple, but which for a long time had only been a dwelling place of demons. Oh! how your infinite mercy became sensitive to me then! " (Spiritual Testament, p. 201, Ed. 2010).


The abandoning to providence of God

The experience of God's mercy became the central core of his spirituality.

Conscious of being continually loved by God, in an infinite, tender and above all merciful way, Murialdo committed himself with all his strength to respond to the "infinite" love of God with an "infinite" love, that is, with all of himself. This is the spiritual tension that accompanied him throughout his life and which took concrete form in trusting abandonment to the Father's Providence, docility to divine will, intense prayer, penance and active charity.


The Will of God

The conviction that God is personal, tender, infinite and above all merciful love for each of us led Murialdo to the certainty, not only mental, but existential, that God's will is the true good of man: therefore his will must be sought by me, welcomed, lovingly fulfilled.

For him, the loving and joyful acceptance of the roads that God showed him gradually derived, even if they were not always according to his plans: the weight of the direction of the Collegio Artigianelli, with its environmental and economic difficulties, the foundation of the Congregation of San Giuseppe, the opening of new businesses and new homes, family mourning and illnesses that undermined his health.


The Humility and Charity like St. Joseph

Murialdo's was an abandonment to Providence characterized by a sense of active and at the same time obedient search, in the loving response to the love of God through the apostolate among poor young people, prayer, the spirit of penance and mortification, humility of the hidden life, on the model of St. Joseph and the Holy Family.


Mother Mary mediatrix and mother of Mercy

The second desire entrusted by St. Leonardo to his congregation is that it spread devotion to Mary mediator of grace.

The maternal function of Mary shows the effectiveness of the salvation that Jesus obtained for us. Murialdo's devotion to Our Lady must be interpreted in the light of the spiritual Testament: Mary is the mediator of grace because she is the "mother of mercy" (Scritti, VI, p. 241; cf. p. 200) ._ The two wishes that Murialdo leaves in inheritance to her children are linked together from the perspective of mercy: God is merciful and the Virgin intercedes because she is merciful (cf. Writings, IV, p. 31).


The least

The recipients of the educational work of St. Leonard Murialdo are the children and young people of the working class, especially those" poor, orphaned or abandoned or even just naughty" : "Poor and abandoned: these are the two requisites that constitute a young person as one of ours, and the poorer and more abandoned he is, the more he is of ours" (Scritti, V, p. 6).

The objectives of the educational action are those of moral, civil and religious formation. We need to work so that young people become "honest citizens, hardworking and talented workers, sincere and virtuous Christians" (Scritti, X, p. 119). The religious goal (or as it was said then, the "salvation of souls") was then strongly emphasized in Murialdo, summed up in a motto dear to him: ne perdantur, so that they do not get lost (Epistolario, V, 2156 and 2187). _The method and style were those of being among the boys "making each of them a friend, brother and father" (family spirit).