Olympia Morata was born in Ferrara, in Northern Italy, in 1526, and seems to have been a precocious child. She was soon fluent in Latin and Greek and was invited to court as the tutor and companion of Anna, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara.
In many ways, she was a true daughter of the Renaissance and was encouraged by her teachers, to devote herself to academic pursuits rather than the the typical occupations of women, at court.
Italy in the sixteenth century was a dangerous place especially for people who had Protestant beliefs. Olympia's father, a professor, was a Protestant but managed to keep his place. However, Olympia had to return home as her father became ill and after his death, found that she had lost royal favour. Her own beliefs were put to the test and it was at this point that she came, from an intellectual faith, to a true faith in Christ for herself.
Olympia's faith was tested. She soon found that life in Italy was unsafe and had to travel to Germany. Her life, there, was anything but easy but she relished the religious freedom, indeed, her husband turned down a better post that they might retain their freedom of worship.
Her life was short but she left behind writings which are still in print. Perhaps she has been largely forgotten because one of her greatest works was the versification of the psalms in Greek something that most of us cannot attempt to read.
This is a book that leaves one thinking over its subject. We can learn much from her, particularly
- An intellectual faith is insufficient.
- Religious freedom is worth more than professional advancement.
I was left wondering about a woman in the sixteenth century whose gifts were largely academic but who managed to create a happy, secure and godly home for her husband and young charges.
This book is definitely worth reading. It isn't a difficult read-I finished it in an evening.
I brought my copy from the Christian bookshop Ossett but as it is published by P and R Publishing is probably more widely available in the US.
Disclosure: I brought this book for my own reading and am publishing this review as this is a book that I have enjoyed and would like others to read. The opinions are all my own.