Franciscan Sister Rafaella Petrini has been appointed to the second-ranking position in the government of the Vatican City State. Pope Francis has made the appointment himself.
Sister Rafaella is the first woman and non-clergy member to be secretary general of the Vatican’s governorate. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints Six Women Leaders to Vatican Economic Council)
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.
Sr. Rafaella replaces Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who was promoted to president, effective Oct. 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.
Sister Rafaella Petrini
Sr. Rafaella, 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 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. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints Women for Top Posts in the Vatican)
She also has a master’s degree in organization behavior from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.