Catholic Scientist of the Past

Laura Bassi

October 29-31, 1711 to February 20, 1778

Laura Bassi  (October 29-31, 1711 to February 20, 1778) Bassi was an Italian physicist who helped promote interest in Newtonian physics in Italy, and was the first woman to hold the rank of professor at a university.  At the age of twenty she was appointed to the chair of physics at the University of Bologna.  As she was not allowed to teach regularly at the university, she started to give private lessons, giving courses on Newtonian physics for 28 years. One of her patrons, who encouraged her study of science and promoted her academic career, was Cardinal Lambertini (later Pope Benedict XIV). In 1745, Pope Benedict XIV started an elite group of 25 scholars known as the “Benedettini,” and, over the objections of some of the other members to including a woman, made Bassi a member of it.  Bassi carried on correspondence with many of the most eminent scholars and literary figures of Europe, including Lazzaro Spallanzani, Rudjer Boscović, Alessandro Volta, and Voltaire.

Copyright information on Picture of Laura Bassi

Explore Other Scientists

It is our hope that this curated set of biographies will be useful to teachers, students, and the general public.

Connect With Catholic Scientists

The Society of Catholic Scientists is an international organization that fosters fellowship among Catholic scientists and witnesses to the harmony of faith and reason.

Support Our Mission

Join the hundreds of people whose financial contributions are allowing Catholic scientists to engage with each other and the world as never before.

Another Callout Item

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum ullamcorper sed ligula in sodales. Sed sollicitudin dignissim turpis quis semper. Phasellus non est et nisl sodales dapibus vel quis ante.