General Congregation 19 was summoned for May 8th 1758, by Antonio Timoni the Vicar General of the Society after the death of Fr General Centurione. Today marks the first full day of deliberations and prayer of the assembled fathers in a meeting that would elect Lorenzo Ricci as General. Nearly all provincials, vice-provincials and electors were present with the exception of the Provincial of Sardinia (who arrived late) and the elector from Austria who was detained in Loreto with a serious illness, from which he would die.
The Congregation would issue 12 decrees, most of them to do with the running and procedures of the General Congregation. Fr Ricci was elected on May 21st, the feast of the Holy Trinity, with more than half the votes received in the second ballot. Apart from Decree 2 which pronounced Ricci General, two more decrees may be of historical interest. Decree 7 was about the fostering of professed houses. Professed Houses, whose members are all professed of the four vows, are not allowed to receive any fixed income , nor are they allowed to charge for their ministries. They rely purely on the generosity of benefactors. There was an appeal from one province to change a professed house into a residence because of the utter lack of alms due to wartime conditions. The Congregation allowed the General to grant this, but only in the direst necessity, agreeing that it was important to foster and maintain them as far as possible.
The other decree of interest was decree 11, which stressed that virtue should be stressed above learning and that the Good of the Society would depend on zeal for spiritual things. That superiors should be ever watchful of the honour and good repute of the Society, but if God were allow times of adversity to fall on the Society, Jesuits were to cling onto Him with sincere and pure hearts. This decree is anticipating and perhaps sensing the storm that is brewing against the Society, It would only be another year until the Expulsion of Jesuits from Portugal, the first domino to fall that would lead to the Suppression.