The Papal States represent a unique and long period in Italian government and in the government of the Roman Catholic Church prior to Italy's unification in 1870. The 25-year period prior to unification was a particularly tumultuous period when the Papal States struggled for survival, faced military and popular challenges and became increasingly indebted. Accounting could become an important tool to assist decision-making and enhance the Papal States' sustainability, as shown by the governance reforms promulgated by Pope Pius IX in this period. Nevertheless, accountants chose what to make visible and emphasised secular, rather than the sacred aspects of the Papal States. Despite reforms, there was a disconnection between the leaders and the accountants. This research therefore examines the role of accounting in such an institution, and extends the concept of a sacred-secular divide to a state government beset by resource constraints and challenged to fulfil its spiritual aims.
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