He lost his father at an early age and his widowed mother was supported by the charity of the Dominicans. A child of the Alhambra, he entered the service of the alcalde as page, and, his ability being discovered, received his education with the sons of the house. When nineteen he entered the Dominican convent and in 1525 took the vows; and, with the leave of his prior, shared his daily allowance of food with his mother. He was sent to Valladolid to continue his studies and then was appointed procurator at Granada. Seven years after he was elected prior of the convent of Scala Caeli in the mountains of Córdova, which after eight years he succeeded in restoring from its ruinous state, and there he began his work as a zealous reformer.
His preaching gifts were developed by the orator Juan de Ávila, and he became one of the most famous of Spanish preachers. He was invited to Portugal in 1555 and became provincial of his order, declining the offer of the archbishopric of Braga but accepting the position of confessor and counsellor to Catherine, the queen regent. At the expiration of his tenure , of the provincialship, he retired to the Dominican convent at Lisbon, where he lived till his death on the last day of 1588.
Aiming, both in his sermons and ascetical writings, at development of the religious view, the danger of the times as he saw it was not so much in the Protestant reformation, which was an outside influence, but in the direction that religion had taken among the masses. He held that in Spain. the Catholic faith was not understood by the people, and that their ignorance was the pressing danger. He fell under the suspicion of the Inquisition; his mystical teaching was said to be heretical, and his most famous book, the Guia de Peccadores, still a favourite treatise, and one that has been translated into nearly every European tongue, was put on the Index of the Spanish Inquisition, together with his book on prayer, in 1559. His great opponent was the restless and ambitious Melchior Cano, who stigmatized the second book as containing grave errors smacking of the heresy of the Alumbrados and manifestly contradicting Catholic faith and teaching. But in 1576 the prohibition was removed and the works of Luis de Granada, so prized by St Francis de Sales, have never lost their value. The friend of St Teresa, St Peter of Alcantara, and of all the noble minds of Spain of his day, no one among the three hundred Spanish mystics excels Luis de Granada in the beauty of a didactic style, variety of illustration and soberness of statement.
The last collected edition of his works is that published in 9 vols. at Antwerp in 1578. A biography by L Monoz, La Vida y virtudes de Luis de Granada (Madrid, 1639); a study of his system by P Rousselot in Mystiques espagnoles (Paris, 1867); Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature (vol. iii.), and James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, History of Spanish Literature, pp. 200-202 (London, 1898), may also be consulted.