Although this passionate love affair took place nearly 1,000 years ago, it still makes for a powerful story today. Heloise was a bright, gifted student in 12th-century Paris who wanted most of all to answer the question of human existence. To help further her studies, her uncle Fulbert, canon of Notre Dame, enlisted the assistance of Peter Abelard, an outstanding philosopher. Abelard began to tutor Heloise, and although he was 20 years her senior, the two fell deeply in love [source: Abelard and Heloise].
Soon Heloise was pregnant. A scandal was imminent, so the couple fled to Brittany, Abelard's home, where they wed in secret. But Fulbert found out and was furious. Heloise was able to escape to a convent in Argenteuil, but Abelard was attacked and castrated. The two decided to give up their beloved son, then take Holy Orders as a monk and nun [source: Abelard and Heloise].
Although Abelard and Heloise were separated for years, their love flourished through their correspondence. They did meet briefly many years later at a ceremony in Paris, and realized in an "aha" moment that love -- like their love -- was the reason for human existence. Ironically, when Josephine Bonaparte, another famous star-crossed lover, learned the story of Abelard and Heloise 600 years later, she was so moved she ordered that their remains be interred together in Paris' Pére Lachaise cemetery [source: Abelard and Heloise].