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LUIS DE GRAN ADA.
HIS BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD.
E are ignorant of the day and hour of Fray Luis' birth.
It was in the year 1504, and in the city of Granada, taken from the Moors twelve years before by the armies of the Catholic king Fernando and Isabel. His father's name was N. Sarria ; he was a native of the town of that name in Galicia, and was one of the many settlers who came to the city, attracted by the important privileges offered to such colonists. He died when his son was but five years old, leaving his family in such destitution that his widow gained a sustenance as laundress to the convent of Dominicans, recently founded in that capital, and, when this occupation failed her, lived upon the bread which those fathers charitably supplied.
A fortunate accident, or rather one of those events which Divine Providence uses for the furtherance of its high designs, rescued Luis from this state of poverty and destitution. He was playing one day near thé Alhambra, with other boys of his own age, and the game ended in blows. At this moment the Count de Tendilla, governor of that fortress, the same who first waved the Castilian banner over its walls on the day of its conquest, came to a window. He rebuked the small contending parties, on which Luis advanced without the smallest embarrassment, and endeavoured to justify himself with such sound reasons, and in such well-chosen words, that the Count was completely captivated by his ability and manners, and directed inquiry to be made into his family and circumstances. The result was that the Count desired one of his household to see to the maintenance and education of the orphan, and that, gaining the goodwill of his protector more and more, he shortly after entered the service of the magnate's sons as a page, and perhaps also as a school-companion and playfellow. He went down with them every day from the Alhambra to the city, where these youths attended a class of Latin Grammar. Luis carried their books, and received the same lessons as they did.
It is a tradition preserved in Granada, and in the Order of S. Dominic, that Luis displayed an extraordinary precocity in his studies; that from a very early age he manifested great oratorical talents, delighting in gathering other children round him, and preaching to them, and that, discovering an inclination for the Ecclesiastical order, but being unable to aspire higher in a career which then afforded a greater prospect of distinction than any other, he was initiated into it as an Acolyte in the Chapel Royal of the city. His regular daily attendance at Divine Offices in the exercise of this lowly ministry strengthened his religious sentiments, and, filled with ardent longings after perfection, he decided upon separating himself from the world, and dedicating himself to the monastic life in the great family of the Preachers.
In 1524, having completed his nineteenth year, he took the habit of a novice in the Dominican convent of Santa Cruz, which had been established by the victorious sovereigns in one of the most beautiful buildings constructed by the Arabs in the last and dearest of their possessions. One year after, on the 15th of June 1525, after a diligent and edifying noviciate, he made his profession in the same convent, and abandoned the