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Elena Lucrezia Piscopia Cornaro

Learned Italian woman of noble descent (1646-1684)

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Cornaro, ELENA LUCREZIA PISCOPIA, a learned Italian woman of noble descent, b. at Venice, June 5, 1646; d. at Padua, July 26, 1684. Her father, Gio-vanni Battista Cornaro, was Procurator of St. Mark’s. At the age of seven she began the study of Latin and Greek under distinguished instructors, and soon became proficient in these languages. She also mastered Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic, earning the title of “Oraculum Septilingue”. Her later studies included mathematics, philosophy, and theology. In 1665 she took the habit of a Benedictine Oblate with-out, however, becoming a nun. In compliance with her father’s wishes she entered the University of Padua and after a brilliant course of study received the doctorate in philosophy. The degree was conferred June 25, 1678, in the cathedral of Padua in presence of many persons eminent for learning and rank. Elena was a member of various academies and was esteemed throughout Europe for her attainments and virtues. The last seven years of her life were devoted to study and charity. She was buried in the church of Santa Giustina at Padua and her statue was placed in the university. Her writings, published at Parma in 1688, include academic discourses, translations, and devotional treatises. In 1685 the University of Padua caused a medal to be struck in her honor. In 1895 Abbess Mathilda Pynsent of the English Benedictine Nuns in Rome had Elena’s tomb opened, the remains placed in a new casket, and a suitable tablet inscribed to her memory.

E. A. PACE


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