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Vatican Opens Two Graves in Search for Girl Missing since 1983

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has ordered the opening of two tombs in the search for a teenage girl who went missing in 1983.

Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, went missing in Rome at the age of 15.

The prosecutor’s office has ordered the opening of two graves in the Teutonic cemetery inside the pontifical state after a petition from her family.

Gian Piero Milano, the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, and deputy Alessandro Diddi have arranged the opening of the tombs on July 11, according to the Vatican press office.

It will be carried out in the presence of the lawyers of the interested parties, Orlandi’s relatives, the family of those buried in the tombs, agents of the Vatican City police and coroner Giovanni Arcudi.

The Vatican said in a statement that the decision was made after the girl’s family requested an investigation of the tomb.

It added that the decision was reached after a phase of investigation in which the prosecutor together with the Vatican Gendarmerie carried out in-depth studies aimed at reconstructing the main judicial stages in the long and complex case.

Vatican authorities have no jurisdiction to investigate the disappearance of Orlandi in Italy and would only be able to verify the possible burial of her body in Vatican territory.

The exhumation on July 11 will be followed by the cataloging and dating of the remains and a DNA test.

The Orlandi family lawyer Laura Sgro said in March they received an anonymous letter last summer with a photo of the grave and the phrase “look where the angel points.”

Investigations discovered that the tomb had been opened at least once and that the dating of the statue is different from that of the slab, according to Sgro.

The tomb is located in the Teutonic cemetery, inside the Vatican walls adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica; it is the site of the ancient Roman Circus of Nero and the location of the martyrdom of many early Christians.

In the cemetery, near one of the walls, is a statue of an angel holding a sheet with the Latin text “Requiescat in pace” (Rest in peace) and on the gravestone is a funerary inscription dedicated to Princess Sofia and Prince Gustav von Hohenlohe, who in 1857 was named archbishop by Pope Pius IX.

Orlandi disappeared on June 22, 1983, when she was leaving the San Apolinar music school in the center of Rome.

Since then there has been no news about her whereabouts but various theories of involvement from the Italian criminal organization Banda della Magliana or an attack on John Paul II by the Turkish assassin Ali Agca.

The family has been trying for years to find clues to what happened and in 2012 they asked for an investigation when unidentified bones were found next to a tomb in the Basilica of San Apolinar.

These remains were later identified as those of Enrico De Pedis, head of the “Banda de la Magliana” mafia of Rome during the ’70s and ’80s.

More recently bones were discovered in the basement of a nunciature or embassy of the Holy See in Rome but these were found to be from before 1964, according to the prosecutor of Rome.


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