Orlandi case: New probe begins into ossuaries inside Vatican City

25 July 2019
Inspection of the ossuaries at the Teutonic College inside the Vatican on July 20, 2019. Image: ANSA/Vatican News.


Investigations began on Saturday into 2 ossuaries found near the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery adjacent to the tombs of two 19th century German princesses whose tombs were recently found empty. The probe is connected with the mysterious disappearance 15-year old teenage girl 36 years ago, Emanuela Orlandi.

A new investigation began in the Vatican Saturday morning into two ossuaries found in an area adjacent to the tombs of two German princesses of the 19th century who were buried in the cemetery inside the walled city.

“At 9 a.m. this morning, operations began regularly at the Teutonic Cemetery as part of the investigation of the Orlandi case,” said a statement by Alessandro Gisotti, the “ad interim” Director of the Holy See Press Office.

Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year old daughter of a Vatican employee, disappeared mysteriously on June 22, 1983,  on her way home to the Vatican from a music lesson in downtown Rome.  Speculation regarding her disappearance and hypothetical ties with the Vatican have been rife for 36 years.

An anonymous tip to the Orlandi family had indicated one of the tombs at the Teutonic Cemetery as a possible burial place for the remains of the young woman.

When the tombs were opened on July 11, no human remains and no traces of coffins or urns were found.

The Vatican explained that the remains of the two princesses could have been removed elsewhere in the cemetery when the adjacent Teutonic College was built in the 1960s and ‘70s of the last century.

Further inspections led to the identification of two ossuaries, or chambers containing the mortal remains of the dead, found beneath the floor of an area inside the Teutonic College.

Gisotti said that Saturday’s probe, decreed by the Promoter of Justice of the Court of Vatican City State,  Prof. Gian Piero Milano, was regarding the ossuaries adjacent to the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and of Princess Charlotte Federica of Mecklenburgh, who died in 1840.

He said that the investigation that was being carried out according to internationally recognised protocols.  Among several officials and authorities were Prof. Milano and the expert appointed by the Orlandi family.

At the moment, Gisotti noted, it was not possible to predict how long it would take to complete the “morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries”.

He said that the probe, following that of July 11, is yet another proof of the Holy See’s openness to the Orlandi Family.  Since the beginning, he explained, the Holy See has shown its availability in accepting the request for a probe into the Teutonic Cemetery, even on the basis of a mere anonymous tip.

In a separate statement later on Saturday, Gisotti said that the probe ended with the remains of the ossuaries taken out and subjected to an initial evaluation.

Further studies would be made on them on July 27, he said.

With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.


Read Daily
* indicates required