Hidden treasures

Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia: the first woman to graduate in the world

Big Names
Elena_Lucrezia_corner

Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia: the first woman to graduate in the world

Women in Venice are often distinguished by their courage and their unconventional choices and an excellent example is Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman to graduate in the world. 

Elena was born in 1646 and was the fifth of seven children of the noble John the Baptist Cornaro and Zanetta Boni from a lower-class. The father was a man of great culture and when he saw the abilities of his daughter, he encouraged her cultural growth in every way. Elena was taught by the best teachers of Greek, Latin, science, philosophy and theology, and she also learned Hebrew and Spanish from a rabbi. Well known among Italian scholars for her intellectualism, Cornaro was received in several Italian academies, and her fame also spread abroad.

After Elena held a public debate of philosophy in Greek and Latin in Venice, her father John the Baptist demanded that the University of Padua should award his daughter with a degree in theology. This was strongly opposed the bishop of Padua, claiming it was ‘a big mistake to allow a woman to obtain a Theological Title' and that ‘it would make fools of ourselves to the world'. This created a conflict between the bishop and Cornaro, which resulted in the compromise to allow Elena to graduate in philosophy. On 25 June 1678 Cornaro submitted her dissertation and was accepted into the College of Physicians and philosophers od the Study at Padua, although as a woman she could not exercise teaching. After having taken seriously ill she died in Padua, at just thirty-eight years.

Imagine that as well as there being a statue of her in Padua University (the ‘Bo') and a small plaque on a wall of the building where she was born on the Grand Canal (now the town hall of Venice), a crater of 26 km in diameter on the planet Venus has been dedicated to her and also in the Library of Vassar University in Poughkeepsie (NY) a stained glass window has been made to commemorate her.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: Prospero Alpini and the discovery of coffee in Europe

prospero_alpini
Big Names

Everyone knows about coffee, the energizing and hearty drink consumed by millions of people every day! We Italians are great coffee dri...

View

Venice: The bridge of Fists in the Dorsoduro district

ponte-dei-pugni
Historical Curiosities

The Bridge of Fists, located in the Dorsoduro district, owes its name to an ancient tradition of Venice: the War of Fists. The inhabita...

View

Venice: The red stone of the 'Sotoportego de la peste'

sotoportego-de-la-peste
Mysteries & Legends

Walking around Venice along the narrow streets and across the squares, you could happen to notice strange slabs on the pavement... whic...

View

Treviso: Mr. Carnevale’s confetti factory in Paese

fabbrica-cordiandoli-carnevale
Local Traditions

We all know what confetti is! It is little pieces of colored paper that are thrown into the air during the course of carnival celebrati...

View

Top posts

Padua: The biodiversity garden in the Padua Botanical Garden

giardino-biodiversità
Unknown places & works

Founded in 1545, the Botanical Garden of Padua is the oldest botanical garden in the world to be still in its original location; it cov...

View

Vicenza: The Bissara Tower in Piazza dei Signori

torre-bissara-vicenza
Historical Curiosities

One of the most evocative places in Vicenza is certainly Piazza dei Signori, overlooked by the famous Basilica Palladiana, the work of ...

View

Venice: The relief of the man with the pipe at Palazzo Loredan on the Grand Canal

palazzo-loredan
Mysteries & Legends

One of the oldest buildings on the banks of the Grand Canal is Palazzo Loredan, built in the 13th century and currently seat of the Tow...

View

Verona: The equestrian monument at Cangrande della Scala in Verona

cangrande
Big Names

One of the most famous people in the history of Verona is surely Cangrande della Scala, Lord of Verona from 1308 to 1329, the year of h...

View