Juliana Morell (16 February 1594 – 26 June 1653) was a Spanish Dominican nun, and the first woman to receive a Doctor of Laws degree.
Morella was born at Barcelona and was left motherless when very young; her first training was received from the Dominican nuns at Barcelona. At the age of four she began Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at home under competent teachers. When not yet seven years old, she wrote a Latin letter to her father who was away.
Accused of taking part in a murder, the father fled to Lyon with his daughter, then eight years old. At Lyon Juliana continued her studies, devoting nine hours daily to rhetoric, dialetics, ethics, and music. At the age of twelve she defended in public her theses in ethics and dialectics "summa cum laude". She then applied herself to physics, metaphysics and canon and civil law. Her father, who had meanwhile settled at Avignon, wanted his daughter to obtain a law doctorate. This was gained in 1608, when she publicly maintained her law theses at the papal palace of the vice-legate before a distinguished audience, among whom was the Princesse de Condé.
Morell was the first woman to receive a university degree. The first woman to receive a doctorate degree in the modern era was Stefania Wolicka, from the University of Zurich in 1875.
Disregarding wealth and an advantageous offer of marriage, she entered during the same year the convent of Sainte-Praxède at Avignon. In 1609 she received the habit of the order, and on 20 June 1610 took the vows. On three occasions she was named prioress. For two years before her end she was in great bodily suffering and her death agony lasted five days; she died in 1653 at Avignon.
In a laudatory poem Lope de Vega speaks of her "as the fourth of the Graces and the tenth Muse" and says "that she was an angel who publicly taught all the sciences from the professorial chairs and in schools".
Morell left a number of religious writings:
- A translation of the "Vita Spiritualis" of Vincent Ferrer, with comments and notes to the various chapters (Lyons, 1617; Paris, 1619);
- Exercices spirituels sur l'éternité (1637);
- French translation of the Rule of St. Augustine with addition of various explanations and observations for the purpose of instruction (Avigon, 1680));
- History of the reform of the convent of St. Praxedis, with lives of some pious sisters, in manuscript;
- Latin and French poems, some printed and some in manuscript.