Juliana Morell

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Juliana Morell

Juliana Morell (16 February 1594 – 26 June 1653)[1] was a Spanish Dominican nun and intellectual child prodigy. Some sources assert that she received a doctorate in canon law in Avignon in 1608. In 1941, Sylvanus Morley traced this to an 1859 misreading by Joaquín Roca y Cornet [es] of 17th-century Latin documents.[2] and cited others stating that, while her father wished for her to obtain a doctorate, she refused, regarding it as incompatible with her status as a nun.[3]

Biography[edit]

Morella was born at Barcelona and was left motherless when very young; her first training was received from the Dominican nuns at Barcelona. At the age of four she began Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at home under competent teachers. When not yet seven years old, she wrote a Latin letter to her father who was away.

Accused of taking part in a murder, the father fled to Lyon with his daughter, then eight years old. At Lyon Juliana continued her studies, devoting nine hours daily to rhetoric, dialectics, ethics, and music. At the age of 12 she defended in public her theses in ethics and dialectics summa cum laude. She then applied herself to physics, metaphysics and canon and civil law. Her father, who had meanwhile settled at Avignon, wanted his daughter to obtain a law doctorate. This was gained in 1608, when she publicly maintained her law theses at the papal palace of the vice-legate before a distinguished audience, among whom was the Princesse de Condé. It is not clear what body granted her the degree.

Morell was the first woman to receive a university degree.[4] The first woman to receive a doctorate degree in the modern era was Stefania Wolicka, from the University of Zurich in 1875.[5]

Disregarding wealth and an advantageous offer of marriage, she entered during the same year the convent of Sainte-Praxède at Avignon. In 1609 she received the habit of the order, and on 20 June 1610 took the vows. On three occasions she was named prioress. For two years before her end she was in great bodily suffering and her death agony lasted five days; she died in 1653 at Avignon.

In a laudatory poem Lope de Vega speaks of her "as the fourth of the Graces and the tenth Muse" and says "that she was an angel who publicly taught all the sciences from the professorial chairs and in schools".

Works[edit]

Morell left a number of religious writings:

  • A translation of the "Vita Spiritualis" of Vincent Ferrer, with comments and notes to the various chapters (Lyons, 1617; Paris, 1619);
  • Exercices spirituels sur l'éternité (1637);
  • French translation of the Rule of St. Augustine with addition of various explanations and observations for the purpose of instruction (Avigon, 1680);
  • History of the reform of the convent of St. Praxedis, with lives of some pious sisters, in manuscript;
  • Latin and French poems, some printed and some in manuscript.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Attribution
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Juliana Morell" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

The entry cites:

Sources
Citations
  1. ^ Griswold (January 1941) p. 137
  2. ^ Griswold (January 1941) pp. 140, 148–149
  3. ^ Griswold (July 1941) p.4 01 doc.5 and p.402 "Two facts are now very clear: Juliana Morell never taught in Paris, and she never received the doctor's degree in Avignon."
  4. ^ Paul F. Grendler (1988). John W. O'Malley (ed.). Schools, Seminaries, and Catechetical Instruction, in Catholicism in Early Modern History 1500-1700: A Guide to Research. Center for Information Research. p. 328.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Agata (2008). Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women's Writing in Fin-de-siècle Austria and Hungary. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 248. ISBN 9780773532861.