Forensic experts have removed human remains from two secret underground rooms inside the Vatican in a bid to solve a 36-year-long ‘murder case’.
Two ossuaries within the walls of the Vatican were opened on Saturday as part of an investigation aimed at resolving the case of a girl who vanished in 1983.
Following an anonymous tip-off, the Vatican earlier this month opened two tombs to see if the body of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican clerk, was hidden there.
Human remains were found in two ossuaries within the walls of the Vatican after they were opened today as part of an investigation aimed at resolving the case of a girl who vanished in 1983
The find followed an unsuccessful tip off that the remains of Emanuela Orlandi had been buried in a grave believed to be occupied by a 19th century princess
Instead, they ran into a new mystery when nothing was found, not even the bones of two 19th century princesses who were supposed to be buried in the Vatican’s tiny Teutonic Cemetery.
After consulting its records, the Vatican announced last week they had located bones under the floor of the Pontifical Teutonic College, which flanks the graveyard.
Structural work was carried out in the cemetery at the end of the 19th century and again about 60 years ago.
Emanuela Orlandi disappeared in 1983 after she left her family’s flat in the Vatican City and headed to a music lesson. She was 15 at the time
Church officials believe the remains of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840, might have been moved and never taken back to their original resting place.
The Vatican has not speculated about whose bones might have been recovered from the ossuaries on Saturday, saying only that they would now be analysed to try to establish their identities.
Amongst those present as the tiny manhole covers were removed was a representative of the Orlandi family.
Emanuela Orlandi disappeared in 1983 after she left her family’s flat in the Vatican City and headed to a music lesson. She was 15 at the time.
Theories about her disappearance have run rife, from an attempt to secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed in 1981 for trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II, to a connection to the grave of Enrico De Pedis, a mobster buried in a Rome basilica.
His tomb was opened in 2012 but nothing was revealed.
The Orlandi family received an anonymous letter earlier this year saying Emanuela’s body might be hidden among the dead in the Teutonic Cemetery where a statue of an angel holding a book reads ‘Requiescat in Pace,’ Latin for ‘Rest in Peace’.
An excavation on Thursday of two Vatican tombs (pictured) suspected of holding her body found no trace of the feared murdered girl. But the Vatican then announce it had discovered two sets of bones under a stone slab in the Pontifical Teutonic College
A group of supporters hold up posters of Emanuela Orlandi which read ‘march for truth and justice for Emanuela’ in St. Peter’s square, the Vatican in 2012 when thousands of bones were found near a Vatican cemetary
Emanuela’s brother Pietro Orlandi, 60, said on Thursday: ‘The last thing I expected was to find empty tombs.’ Today, the family’s lawyer, Laura Sgro, said Saturday she had been informed of the discovery of the bones and that the family was pleased that the investigation was continuing
The Vatican has always denied suggestions that it has dragged its feet over the investigation.
‘With this latest expert operation … the Vatican is once again showing its openness towards the Orlandi family.
‘This openness has been shown from the outset in agreeing to check the Holy Teutonic Campus even on the basis of a mere anonymous report,’ it said in a statement on Saturday.