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Fortunato de Félice - Bern & Protestantism (1757-58)

 It was the summer of 1757 when de Félice arrived in Bern. He immediately went to see  Haller, who introduced him to his intellectual circle, and pulled strings amongst the local authorities to ensure his safe residence.

After a lavish upbringing, this was the couple's first real contact with poverty, and although Haller provided for them it was still a stark difference to Naples. Despite the shock of the past year, de Félice tried to apply himself as best he could. Haller described the "Pater Fortunatus de Félice" as regularly meditating into the early hours of the morning.


Albrecht von Haller (1708-77)

Applying himself academically, he wrote "De Newtonian Attractione, unica coherentiae naturalis causa, adversus Clarhambergeren". This received stunning reviews, being described by Bernoulli as "le meilleur commentaire de la physique de Newton" [the best commentary on Newtonian physics]. His long hours of prayer had paid off and through this he had looked deeper into Protestantism without persecution, now being away from the deeply Catholic Kingdom of Naples.

His open intelligence had always been at odds with Catholicism and de Félice detested the "despotic yoke of superstitions and practises and the emptiness of the roman church". In Naples his friend Prince Raimondo di Sangro and he had much correspondence discussing religion, always coming to the conclusion of the theological superiority of Protestantism. De Félice had read an illegal protestant bible during his time with the Jesuits, though didn't want to upset his parents even more by converting. However, he was unable to fight his own sense of reason and unable to return to his studies without a clear conscience.  So, with much courage, he decided to embrace the reformation, soon travelling to the "Chambre des Proselytes" in Geneva where he was interrogated by three pastors, who proclaimed him into the church.

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