Pope Francis on Thursday appointed Franciscan Sister Raffaella Petrini to the second-ranking position in the government of the Vatican City State.
Petrini is the first woman and non-clergy member to be secretary general of the Vatican’s governorate.
The appointment makes her one of the highest-ranking women at the Vatican, alongside Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, “ad interim” secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Sr. Natalie Becquart, an under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
Petrini replaces Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who was promoted to president, effective Oct. 1.
Petrini, 52, is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Since 2005, she has been an official in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The religious sister, who is from Rome, is also a professor of the economy of welfare and sociology at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), where she received a doctorate in social sciences.
She also has a master’s degree in organization behavior from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.