Pope Francis on Thursday appointed Franciscan Sister Raffaella Petrini to the second-ranking position in the government of the Vatican City State.
Sr Petrini is the first woman and non-clergy member to be secretary general of the Vatican’s governorate.
She replaces Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who was promoted to president, effective October 1.
The governorate is the office of executive power of the state of Vatican City. It is led by a president, secretary general, and vice secretary general.
Pope Francis also appointed November 4 the vice secretary general of Vatican City, layman Giuseppe Puglisi-Alibrandi, who was at one point also in the running for the number two position.
Mr Puglisi-Alibrandi, 55, is a lawyer who has worked in the Vatican City governorate since 2014. In 2017, he was made head of the legal office.
Sr 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 Evangelisation 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 organisation behavior from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.