Apologist; b. Bronte (Cantania), Dec. 5, 1740; d. Rome, Nov. 26, 1795. He studied at the seminary in Monreale, Sicily, where he took his doctorate in theology. He was ordained in 1764 and was admitted to the Arcadia under the name of Melanzio Alcioneo. He cultivated also poetry, music, and paintings.
His published works are Analisi dell'esame critico del Sig. Nicola Ferret sulle prove del Christianesimo (Rome 1778), a defense of the authenticity and veracity of the New Testament, and Confutazione dell'esame critico del Christianesimo fatto dal Sig. Edoardo Gibbons (Rome 1784), a treatise against the rationalist theories of Gibbons. The principal work, however, is still Dei diritti dell'uomo, in which he shows the Christian religion to be the most secure guardian of the rights of man (Rome 1791). In it he combatted deism, atheism, the so-called natural religion proclaimed by the French Revolution, Jansenism, and Freemasonry; he also developed the thesis that sovereignty resides in the people, who in order to avoid confusion and tyranny, entrust it to the governing body as depository. The work was proscribed by all the courts. The libertine philosophers did not like it because it reconciled the rights of man with the Gospel. The liberals were against it because it held that only religious ideas were capable of procuring the people's well-being. Some Catholic theologians were opposed to it because it admitted the licitness of regicide, even if only in extreme cases.
Bibliography: h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae, 5 v. in 6 (3d ed. Innsbruck 1903–13) 5.1:323–324.