He made the journey with the money (12 onzes) that he borrowed from a
brontese priest staying in Palermo and in Rome spent a few uneasy
months, disheartened and in big poverty.
A legend tells that in the first days,
dressed as Calabrian farmer, with leather shoes,
velvet jacket, skin bodice and funnel hat, earned his living playing the harp in the squares and in
front of the inns in the courtyards of the princely palaces.
Of that period, the same Spedalieri, will later write that to keep going
he had to use "oars, rather than sails"
and that "the greater glory of a man is to
owe everything to himself ".
Preceded from the rumble produced in Monreale by the famous theological
thesis, he finally found in Rome the suitable field for his vocation of
philosopher and publicist.
He made himself known to the cultural world and, already in the October
1774, was admitted to the literary
academy of the Arcadia with diploma
free admission (a sign of respect) assuming the nickname of
Melanzio Alcioneo; well-known and appreciated by the Corte
Romana, especially by Pope Pius VI that had great trust on him.
The Pope asked him to write the History of the draining and reclamation
of the pontine marshes (arranged by Pius VI) and his famous work
on the rights of man, wanted to stem somehow the revolutionary theories
spreading from France.
Zealous defender of Christianity and supporter of popular sovereignty,
fought with several controversial and apologetic writings the theses of
the encyclopedists, defending truthfulness and authenticity of the
His first important philosophical work is of 1778 (four years
after his coming to Rome): 472 pages, in 8° grand, in defense of religion
and entitled "Analisi dell’Esame critico del
cristianesimo di Nicola Frèret"
(Analysis Of The Critical Exam
of Christianity by Nicola Frèret). The work had a remarkable success and the name of the Spedalieri became
very popular in Rome and in all Christendom.
In 1779, on occasion of
solemn celebrations for the recovery of the Governor and Pius VI, he kept
two famous speeches in Rome about the "Arte
di governare" (Governing
Art) and the "Influenza della
religione cristiana nella società civile" (Influence of the Christian
Religion in Civil Society) in which he was already anticipating
the themes of his most important work.
In 1784 he wrote another mighty
apologia of Christianity, the Gibbon Confutation,
that, in his History, had attributed the decadence of the Roman
empire to the Christianity.
In his more
important work "Dei diritti
dell’uomo" (About the rights of man) (1791), the
Spedalieri, moving from the thesis of the contract as origin of
society, claimed that the Christian religion is "the
safest keeper of man's rights" a guarantee against
the abuse of despotism justifying the rebellion to the
authority, when this does not respect "the
natural rights" which had been somewhat dispensed
with by the French revolution.
(against the absolutism, on the sovereignty and on
the right of the people to knock down the tyranny), very advanced
for the time, in a moment of transition and of grave ideological
tensions, sowed dismay in the absolutist courts and in the