Elena Cornaro Piscopia Google Doodle: Google is celebrating the 373rd birthday of Italian philosopher, theologian Elena Cornaro Piscopia with a doodle. In 1678, Elena Cornaro Piscopia, also known as Helen Cornaro, became the first woman in the world to earn a PhD degree, at the age of 32.
Born on June 5, 1646, in Venice, Elena Cornaro Piscopia began her studies in Latin and Greek under distinguished instructors and became proficient in these languages. By the time Elena was seven, her parents had recognized her giftedness. She also mastered Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic, while studying the harpsichord, clavichord, harp, and violin. She became an expert musician as well. Elena later studied mathematics and astronomy, but her greatest interest was in philosophy and theology. In 1672, she enrolled at the University of Padua after becoming president of the Venetian society Accademia dei Pacifici.
While studying there, Elena Cornaro Piscopia’s application for a Doctorate of Theology was rejected, because church officials were not ready to bestow the title on a woman. Struggling through this phase, she applied for a Doctorate of Philosophy with her father’s support. In 1678, Elena Cornaro Piscopia’s oral examination garnered so much interest that the ceremony got organised in Padua Cathedral instead of the university to accommodate an audience that included professors, students, senators, and invited guests from Universities all over Italy.
Speaking in Latin, Elena Cornaro Piscopia explained difficult passages randomly selected from Aristotle’s writings. Her eloquence impressed the committee very much after which they expressed their approval viva voce rather than by secret ballot.
A wreath of laurel was placed on her head, a gold ring on her finger, a book of philosophy in her hand, and an ermine cape upon her shoulders.