September 21, 2020

In search of the disappeared in 1983 in the Vatican

The tombs of two German princesses who are in a cemetery inside the walls of the Vatican will be opened tomorrow to verify if they hide the rest of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a vaticano employee disappeared in 1983.

The Vatican prosecutor's office ordered the opening of the two tombs after the request of the Orlandi family, who has never surrendered in search of the young woman, whose disappearance is one of the great mysteries of the country.

The last chapter of this black novel begins with a mysterious anonymous letter in which a cryptic message is read: "Search where the angel indicates." The rest of the elements of the story we already have. A missing girl, a broken family whose efforts have not been broken, an alleged murder, the Church, the Mafia, thousands of hypotheses and no certainty. And now, an angel. A track that leads directly to a figure, in a Vatican cemetery, where They are going to try to end a suspense that lasts 36 years.

The Vatican has ordered that next tomb be exhumed the German princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and the monarch of Denmark and Norway Carlotta Federica di Mecklenburg. Both have been buried for centuries in the Teutonic Cemetery, a tiny cemetery located within the Vatican walls, in which burial figures of Germanic origin who have rendered service to the Church are still buried. The location continues to increase the mystery. And it turns out that, on the tombstones of these two good women, a stone angel accompanies the famous inscription of "rest in peace."

To facilitate the riddle, the sender of the letter had attached a photograph that corresponds to this place. It was not going to be all that difficult. This information came to the hands of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of an official of the Holy See who has not heard anything since June 22, 1983, when she left home to go to music class and never again returned. So the lawyer of the Orlandi, Laura Sgrò, appeared at the Vatican State Secretariat to report on what happened. The investigations have been prolonged during some months, but finally the office of the Promoter of Justice of the Holy See has ordered that the tombs be opened and the bones that are found there analyzed, in case there are genetic remains that correspond with those of the small Orlandi.


The process will take days or weeks. An inconvenience for a time of instant news, but that should be insignificant when we are talking about a story that has been written for too long.

The person in charge of taking samples for the subsequent DNA examination, the professor of legal medicine at the University of Tor Vergata Giovanni Arcudi, explained to the Vatican information page that the skeletal remains will be examined "for classification and dating and for all other diagnoses that can be made in forensic anthropology, to establish age, sex, height, etc."

After this first exam, it could "exclude the hypothesis that bone remains belong to people other than the two who were buried there", he added.

But in the event that other human remains are found, he added, "the time of the operation would be extended and could be useful the dental identification, the state of the teeth, from which it can be traced until the age".

Afterwards, the DNA test will be carried out "to reach certainty and exclude definitively and categorically that in the two tombs there is a remainder attributable to poor Emanuela".

"For the DNA test it may take 20 days, 30 days, and it may even be 60 days because sometimes you have to repeat the test," said the coroner.

Only 15 years

Emanuela was only 15 when she disappeared on a normal day like any other. A month earlier, Mirella Gregori, another Roman of the same age, also missed the track. The girls did not know each other, but they had friends in common, so their case was always associated. Since then there have been innumerable signs that have given hope to find their whereabouts, but they have always ended in a fiasco.

The last one occurred last October, when they found strange bones in the Vatican nunciature in Rome. The Holy See announced it with an unusual official statement late at night, so the rumors that we could have reached the end of the soap opera shot up. Italian journalists recovered the story of Emanuela Orlandi, one of her favorite mysteries. The furor came to ridicule at the time when a specialized institute in the city of Caserta determined that the skeletal remains were from a stage that goes from the year 90 to 230 AD, in the early Christian era. We were already in January, the link with the missing girls had been discarded weeks before and soon after the letter appeared as a new element. Years earlier, another tomb had also been exhumed in the Roman basilica of San Apolinar after the wife of a player in the Lazio football team in Rome claimed that the remains of the girl were there. The investigations were also unsuccessful, but the story is too juicy not to be told.

And this happens every time there is a new element. A year before Emanuela disappeared, he had broken Banco Ambrosiano, a private Catholic entity in which his president, Roberto Calvi, had been involved; Cardinal Paul Marcinkus, president of the IOR, known as the Vatican Bank; and the businessman linked to the mafia Michele Sindona. By divine work, Marcinkus got diplomatic immunity and left for the United States, where he was never tried. But Sindona was poisoned in jail and Calvi was found hanging from a London bridge. Both must have been accidental deaths, because they were not found guilty either.

A debt to the mafia?

One of the most established theories of the Orlandi case is that the Church had contracted such a large debt with the Roman mafia of La Magliana that it could not pay and, as a mechanism of pressure, the criminals kidnapped the girl to obtain her money. This is the theory maintained by Pino Nazio in his book «The Secret of Emanuela Orlandi». According to her indications, she would have died shortly after being kidnapped and speaks of a rather harsh end, for which it would be impossible to find her remains now. Another hypothesis is that the child was the victim of some macabre episode of pederasty in which Vatican personalities would be involved.

And, to suppose, in the book «The impostors» of the Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi it is speculated that the Holy See would have hidden it in a convent in London. The family has never stopped searching, sometimes with a strong media presence, hoping to even find it alive at some point. The conspiracy has always worked very well in Italy. They tried to kill John Paul II in a strange attack in St. Peter's Square committed by a Turkish man named Ali Agca, whom the Pope later forgave after visiting him in prison. Precisely the terrorist who tried to end the life of Pope Wojtyla offered another of the clues.

Shortly after the disappearance of Orlandi, a mysterious voice that identified itself as "the American" claimed to have custody of the girl and offered an exchange with Ali Agca. John Paul II appealed from St. Peter's Square to be released, but did not get anything. It has become clear that a puzzle that has lasted for more than three decades has so many pieces that at this point it is difficult to believe that a new one is the key.

Only the time of the afterlife and the restlessness of the family have returned this case, which seemed to become one of many unresolved mysteries, on the front line. Gianfranco Girotti, former regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, has expressed that "the decision to open the two tombs has the sole intention of putting an end to this story with fable dyes." The Teutonic Cemetery is only 200 meters from the house where the family lived. The circular story triumphs among bestsellers and sometimes black novels – and articles like this one – end where they started.

A controversial case for the Vatican

Pietro Orlandi, the girl's brother, has acted during all these years as a spokesperson for the family. His father, Ercole, died years ago after several interventions in the heart. While his mother, Maria, says he has suffered too much to get ahead. Pietro has been the face of the Orlandi for the Press, especially in his constant appearances on the program "What did he see?" (The Italian version of "Who knows where?"), Which is still broadcasting on the RAI), but also when it has been necessary to contact the Vatican. The brother has accused the Holy See on many occasions of not having been involved in the mystery of Emanuela and even of complicity. Although the decision to open the tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery has changed that perception. Now he thanks the efforts of the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and the commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani. According to him, that the news was also given by the Vatican press room gives the case a tone of officialdom. "I do not know what will happen, but before excluding certain things, it is necessary to clarify them. We are happy to be heard, "Pietro told the newspaper La Stampa.

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