It is a tradition of Google to honor an event or some famous personality through its doodle. Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, also known as Helen Cornaro is featured today on Google doodle. It is also a way for us to know about some famous personalities who did something great and get inspired to do something similar to our lives as well.
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
Elena Cornaro Piscopia’s was among the first known female Ph.D. holder. She was born on 5th June 1646. It was in 1678, at the age of 32, she earned the highest degree that a university can bestow upon someone.
She was born in Venice. Her mother was Zanetta Boni who probably fled to Venice in order to avoid starvation and later became the mistress of her father Gianbattista Cornaro-Piscopia.
What makes her achievements even more special is that during those times, the Church would not allow such degrees to any women. So she had two major challenges, one she was a woman, second, she was not a legal child.
She was born in portent. Since 7, her parents recognized that she is not an ordinary child and supported her in studies. She learned many languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic and also studied mathematics and astronomy. She also translated many books.
She also learned music and later mastered it too. She became an expert in playing the harp and the violin, the harpsichord, the clavichord.
In order to get a Ph.D. degree one has to defend his/her research work in front of experts from the field. It is to be noted that she must have been the first women in Europe to stand in front of literary geniuses.
It was In 1678, that Elena’s oral was conducted. This event was so famous that the University of Padua, from where she was pursuing Ph.D., was forced to move her oral examination to Padua Cathedral in order to accommodate a large crowd, consisting of professors, students, teachers from different universities of Italy along with senators and the general public.
It was on 25 June 1678, Elena Cornaro Piscopia astonished everyone by speaking fluent Latin and explaining difficult passages from Aristotle’s writing, that too selected randomly. It was an hour-long exercise and audience present was very impressed by her eloquence.
She received a book of philosophy, the wreath of laurel was placed on her head, a gold ring on her finger, and the ermine mozetta over her shoulders.
What we can learn from her?
She was determined to achieve the highest degree amidst all obstacles. We shall continue to strive towards our dreams no matter what the circumstances are and do what we love with full sincerity and honesty.