Above: Map of Spain and Portugal, 1584
Image in the Public Domain
LUIS DE LEON (1527-AUGUST 23, 1591)
Spanish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian
Luis de Leon expanded his horizons, much to the disapproval of the Inquisition. Our saint, born in 1527 at Belmonte, Cuenea, Spain, was an Augustinian priest who taught the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Salamanca. He chose to move beyond scholastic theology and studied Platonism, Arabic philosophy, Jewish mysticism, et cetera. De Leon also mastered the Hebrew language so he could study the Hebrew Bible better. During our saint’s study of the Old Testament he identified certain mistranslations in the Vulgate of St. Jerome. News of this led to de Leon’s incarceration (without sacraments as well as knowledge of the charges against him) by the Valladolid Inquisition from March 1572 to December 1576. Eventually the Inquisition cleared de Leon of all charges and released him. His experience with the Inquisition influenced some of de Leon’s subsequent writings, as when he contrasted the arrogance of certain authority figures with the humility of Christ:
What can we say about kings and princes who not only lower and despise some of their subjects but think that this is the only way they themselves can feel important and try their best so that the groups they have lowered and despised will be held down and despised generation after generation?
–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 93
De Leon’s academic and ecclesiastical career advanced post-Inquisition. In his masterpiece, The Names of God (1583), he meditated on the titles of Christ. Our saint received academic promotions and, in 1591, shortly before his death, became the provincial for the Augustinian order in Castille. He died at Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, on August 23, 1591.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
DECEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER
THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET
THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR
THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER
Almighty God, you have enlightened your Church by the teachings of your servant Luis de Leon;
enrich it evermore with your heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses, who by their life and teaching
may proclaim to all people the truth of your salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Psalm 34:11-17 or 119:97-104
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), page 684