World’s first female maths professor who died a nun stars as Google doodle

Maria Agnesi's Google Doodle (c) Google

In celebration of her 296th birthday, Maria Agnesi is the first thing millions of people across the world will see when they open their web browsers today.

Her work in mathematics and natural philosophy made her one of the most extraordinary women of her age. In a world first, she was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at the prestigious University of Bologna in 1750 by Pope Benedict XIV.

It is worth learning her story for two main reasons: First because few people have heard of either her or her achievements, hopefully the doodle pictured above will help rectify that and secondly because her story refutes important current anti-Catholic ideas that the Church is opposed to both learning and women.

Maria Agnesi Poster

The CTS booklet Lumen – the Catholic Gift to Civilisation, which has a section on women in Catholic history, explains:

“Catholic civilisation has scarcely always been enlightened towards women and misogynistic statements can be found even by great teachers of the faith. Nevertheless, Catholicism is arguably unique among monotheistic religions in combining strong feminine as well as strong masculine aspects.”

One of the booklet’s authors, Fr Andrew Pinsent, has also written about Maria Agnesi, authoring a poster about her that is part of our Catholic Knowledge Network Poster Pack, where she is one of the five featured Catholic pioneers in the fields of science, mathematics, literature and music.

The posters, ideal for your parish hall or the classroom of your local catholic school, are designed to show the importance of Faith in every area of human endeavour.

The other four posters in the pack, which costs £24.95 feature:

• George Lemaître (the Belgian priest who proposed the Big Bang theory)
• Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian friar who was the founder of the new science of genetics)
• Guido d’Arezzo (the medieval music theorist who invented musical notation as we know it today)
• J.R.R. Tolkien (the devout Catholic author of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit books).

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