Orlandi case: No bones later than the end of the 19th century

31 July 2019
Experts with bones found inside ossuaries inside Vatican City. Image: ANSA/Vatican News.


The Holy See Press Office has issued a statement on the investigations at the Teutonic Cemetery in the Vatican.

The Holy See Press Office has announced that operations in the Teutonic Cemetery have come to an end. Excavations in the cemetery were begun earlier this month after an anonymous tip suggested that the remains of Emanuela Orlandi – the daughter of a Vatican employee who disappeared in 1983 – were buried in the cemetery.

Several hundred partially intact bone structures, and thousands of fragments, were found in two ossuaries that were opened earlier this month. A morphological analysis of the remains, conducted by a team led by Professor Giovanni Arcudi, determined that none of the remains could be dated later than the end of the 19th century.

An expert named by the Orlandi family was present during the excavations and subsequent evaluation of the bone fragments. An advocate for the family has requested about 70 bone fragments be subjected to further laboratory tests. Although the request for additional testing was not supported by Professor Arcudi, the samples were nonetheless collected and are being held in the custody of the Gendarmerie.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said the communication of the details of the investigation confirmed the Holy See’s “desire to seek the truth about the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.” At the same time, it denied that the Holy See’s “attitude of full cooperation and transparency can in any way signify and implicit admission of responsibility,” as has sometimes been suggested.

The statement insists, “The search for the truth is in the interest of the Holy See and the Orlandi family.”

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


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