Pope FrancisPope FrancisNY mayor revises Bronx apartment fire death toll down to 17 Pope sends condolences to victims of 'devastating' Bronx fire Pope: Dialogue, justice needed to end unrest in Kazakhstan MORE appointed a woman to the No. 2 position in the Vatican's government for the first time in the tiny country's history.
Francis named an Italian nun, Sister Raffaella Petrini, to the role of secretary general of the Governatorate of the State of Vatican City, according to Reuters. Petrini, 52, is now the highest-ranking woman in the Vatican. The position is akin to deputy governor of a state, or deputy mayor of a city.
The role also entails overseeing over 2,000 employees and is based in the Vatican's palace in the central part of the city. Her role includes responsibilities such as oversight of the general workings of Vatican City, police, firefighters, health personnel, museums, maintenance and office staff, according to the wire service.
Previously, a bishop held the same position that Petrini will take over. The bishop now holds the top post of presidency.
Petrini holds a law degree from a La Sapienza University, a renowned Italian university. She also holds a political science degree from Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, in addition to her doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, where she teaches currently, according to Vatican News.
Until her recent appointment by His Holiness, Petrini has served as the head of the Governorate's Legal Office, according to Vatican News.
News of Petrini's appointment comes following Francis's promise to improve gender representation in the Vatican government, though women's groups have criticized the pope, arguing that the change is moving too slowly.
Other women hold posts in Vatican City, but their departments manage religious and social issues and preside over fewer staff members, according to Reuters.
Francis previously said he sees no reason why a woman should not hold a top post aside from doctrinal positions that prohibit women, such as ordained clergy like priests, deacons, bishops and cardinals, according to Reuters.