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Observations placeholder

Luis de Leon - On organs



Type of Spiritual Experience


Luis Ponce de León, (1527 – 1591), was a Spanish lyric poet, Augustinian friar, theologian and academic, active during the Spanish Golden Age. Both of his parents had Jewish ancestry. Fray Luis entered the University of Salamanca at the age of fourteen, in 1541, to study Canon Law under the care of his uncle Francisco. In 1543 or 1544 he joined the Augustinian Order, and was professed as a friar at the Priory of San Pedro. In 1552, Fray Luis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theology from the University of Toledo and continued his education as a student of Hebrew and Biblical interpretation at the University of Alcalá de Henares. While at the University, he translated classical and biblical literature and wrote on religious themes.

In 1571, Dominican professors Bartolomé de Medina and Castro put forth seventeen propositions to the Inquisition documenting Fray Luis’allegedly heretical opinions. His translation into Spanish and commentary of the Song of Solomon was the biggest evidence presented for their case against him. As a result, he was imprisoned at Valladolid from March 1572 until December 1576, fell ill and remained in bad health throughout his imprisonment. Though he suffered greatly from his isolation and less than desirable conditions, Fray Luis continued to actively write and study during his confinement.

At the end of 1576, he was released from prison with an admonishment to be more careful and reserved in his publications and speech. Tradition has it that he began his university lecture, on the first day after returning from four years' imprisonment with the words Dicebamus hesterna die ("As we were saying yesterday....").

Fray Luis did not pay heed to the cautionary admonishments of the Inquisitorial committee after his earlier imprisonment. In 1582, he had another Inquisitional run-in, but was not this time imprisoned. He was absolved two years later.

He died at the age of 64 on 23 August, 1591, in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Ávila, and is buried in Salamanca in the Priory of San Agustín. Ten days before his death he was elected Vicar General of the Augustinian Order.

A description of the experience

The Poetry of father Luis de Leon – Luis de Leon
On Francisco de Salinas’ Organ Playing

The air becomes serene
And takes on unusual beauty and light
Salinas, when the supreme music sounds forth
Governed by your knowing hand

At its divine sound
The soul, usually plunged in forgetfulness
Regains its senses and the lost memory
Of its primal origin shines forth

And as it recognises itself
Then its fate and thoughts are bettered
It spurns the gold which the vulgar crowd worships
That temporal deceiving beauty

It traverses the entire realm of air
To pass to the highest sphere
And there listens in another way
To imperishable music, which is the source of the first

It sees how the great maestro
Playing this immense lyre with skilful motions
Produces the sacred sound
By which this eternal temple is sustained

And as the latter is composed
Of concordant numbers, it sends out
A consonant response; and both in rivalry
Mingle with the sweetest harmony

There the soul sails
On an ocean of bliss, and finally
Drowns in it, so that it neither hears nor feels
Any strange or passing accident

O happy swoon! O death that gives life
O sweet oblivion! Let me stay, reposing in you
Without ever being sent back
To those base and vile senses

The source of the experience

Other religious person

Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Listening to sound and music


Listening to music