Louis of Granada< Back to author list
Louis was born in Granada of poor parents. At the age of nineteen he was received into the Dominican Order in the Priory of the Holy Cross in Granada. His philosophical studies once over, he was chosen by his superiors to represent his community at the College of St. Gregory at Valladolid, an institution of the Dominican Order reserved for extraordinary students.
When Louis had completed these studies, he embarked upon the career of a preacher, in which he continued with extraordinary success during forty years. The fame of his preaching spread beyond the boundaries of his native land, and at the request of the Cardinal-Infante, Dom Henrique of Portugal, son of King Manuel, he was transferred to Portugal, where he became Prior Provincial of the Portuguese Dominicans in 1557. His extraordinary sanctity, learning, and wisdom soon attracted the attention of the queen regent, who appointed him her confessor and counselor. The Bishopric of Viseu and the Archbishopric of Braga were successively offered to him only to be courteously, but firmly, refused. The honours of the cardinalate, offered to him by Pope Sixtus V, were also declined.
Besides ascetical theology, his published works treat of Scripture, dogma, ethics, biography and Church history. He is best known, however, for his ascetical writings. Most of them were translated into many languages. The best known of his ascetical writings, and the one that achieved the greatest measure of success, is The Sinner's Guide (La Guia de Pecadores), published in 1555. It is marked by a smooth, harmonious style of purest Spanish idiom which has merited for it the reputation of a classic, and by an unctuous eloquence that has made it a perennial source of religious inspiration. It has been most favourable compared with Thomas à Kempis's "Imitation of Christ". Within a comparatively short time after its first appearance it was translated into Italian, Latin, French, German, Polish, and Greek. He earned much money for his writings, all of which went to the poor.
In 1539, at the age of 35, he wrote a small tract on the method of prayer for a student who had written to him for advice. This tract developed into his first book, The Book of Prayer and Meditation, published in 1554. The unexpected success of the book led him to dedicate himself to writing on spiritual themes for all. He led a life of an ascetic, his cell being poor and having little possessions. He wrote for 35 years, producing 49 works.
Louis died at the age of 84 at Lisbon, Portugal.
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