Maria Gaetana Agnesi (Italian pronunciation: [maˈriːa ɡaeˈtaːna aɲˈɲeːzi, -eːsi; -ɛːzi]; 16 May 1718 – 9 January 1799) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. She was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a Mathematics Professor at a university. She is credited with writing the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus and was a member of the faculty at the University of Bologna, although she never served. She devoted the last four decades of her life to studying theology (especially patristics) and to charitable work and serving the poor. This extended to helping the sick by allowing them entrance into her home where she set up a hospital. She was a devout Catholic and wrote extensively on the marriage between intellectual pursuit and mystical contemplation, most notably in her essay Il cielo mistico (The Mystic Heaven). She saw the rational contemplation of God as a complement to prayer and contemplation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini, clavicembalist and composer, was her sister.

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