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Michael of Cesena

b. c.1270-1342. General of the Franciscan Order. Born in Cesena, Italy, he came to the leadership of the Franciscans at a delicate moment when the order was torn by strife between factions known as the “Spirituals” and the “Community.” The former adhered strictly to the fundamentals of poverty and non-ownership of property laid down by Francis, while the latter faction opted for a more liberal interpretation recognizing papal rulings on the “poor use” of possessions. Michael's support of William of Ockham,* theologian and apologist for the Spirituals, and his association with Emperor Louis of Bavaria brought about his excommunication by John XXII in 1328. Ockham and Emperor Louis opposed not only the papal rulings concerning possession of property, but advocated separation of civil and ecclesiastical authority. Michael disputed the excommunication and until his death was recognized by his faction as general of the order.