Saturday, March 8, 2014


In honor of this special day I present to you Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia. Elena was the first woman in Europe to graduate from a University. She studied and received her degree from the University of Padua, Italy.

Elena was born in Venice on June 5, 1646. Her father, a wise man in my opinion, wanted his daughter to be educated (a novel idea for those times). Elena was an avid learner, could speak several languages, was fluent in Latin. While at the University she had sought a degree in Theology but the thinking of the times did not allow women in the field of Theology. The degree conferred on her was a Doctorate of Philosophy, she received it on June 25, 1678. It is reported that 30 thousand people showed up for the graduation ceremonies which took place at the Cathedral. Records show that her acceptance speech lasted three hours and was given totally in Latin. Elena died a young woman at the age of 38. The date was June 25, 1678.

Vassar's Thompson Library honors this fabulous woman with a beautiful window which tells Elena's story.