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Heloise (12th Century)
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Religious Figure
    (1101-May 16, 1164)
    Born in France
    Abbess of the Oratory of the Paraclete
    Known for her affair, marriage and correspondence with philosopher Peter Abelard
    Wrote 'Problemata Heloissae' ('Heloise's Problems'), a collection of 42 theological questions and Abelard's answers
    She and Abelard named their child Astrolabe after a scientific instrument.
    She wrote to Abelard, 'Even during Mass, when our prayers should be purer, lewd visions of those pleasures take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on prayers.'
    There is some question over whether she and Abelard are actually buried in their tomb at Pere Lechaise cemetery in Paris.
    In an era when few women were literate, she knew Greek, Latin and Hebrew.
    After their marriage, she became a nun, Abelard became a monk, and he failed to even write to her for fifteen years.
    After their correspondence resumed, her letters to Abelard provide a rare glimpse into the life of a medieval woman.
    Her affair with Abelard inspired poems by Alexander Pope and Christina Rossetti.

Credit: C. Fishel


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