VATICAN CITY - The mystery of the 1983 disappearance of the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee has taken yet another twist following excavations this past week at a Vatican City cemetery: The Vatican said Saturday it had discovered two ossuaries under a manhole that will be formally opened next week.
The Vatican on Thursday had pried open the tombs of two 19th century German princesses in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College in hopes of finding the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, after her family received a tip she might be buried there.
Those hopes were dashed when the tombs turned out to be completely empty.
The Vatican noted at the time that structural work had been carried out on both the college and cemetery near St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1800s and more recently, and that further investigation would be done.
On Saturday, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said those investigations had centered on the areas adjoining the tombs and had “identified two ossuaries, located under the pavement of an area inside the Pontifical Teutonic College, covered by a manhole.”
He said the area was immediately sealed off and will be opened in the presence of forensic experts July 20.
Orlandi disappeared in 1983 after leaving her family’s Vatican City apartment to go to a music lesson in Rome. Her father was a lay employee of the Holy See.
Over the years, her case has been linked to everything from the plot to kill St. John Paul II to the financial scandal of the Vatican bank and Rome’s criminal underworld.
The last major twist in the case came in 2012, when forensic police exhumed the body of a reputed mobster from the crypt of a Roman basilica in hopes of finding Orlandi’s remains as well. The search turned up no link.
In 2017, a leading Italian investigative journalist caused a sensation when he published a five-page document that had been stolen from a locked Vatican cabinet that suggested the Holy See had been involved in Orlandi’s disappearance.
The Vatican immediately branded the document a fake, though it never explained what it was doing in the Vatican cabinet.
The document was purportedly written by a cardinal and listed supposed expenses used for Orlandi’s upkeep after she disappeared.