Vatican uncovers hidden chamber in hunt for missing teen

Vatican uncovers hidden chamber in hunt for missing teen

Two tombs in the Teutonic Holy Field inside the Vatican opened after an anonymous tipoff in the search for an Italian teenager who went missing 36 years ago are empty.

Forensic scientists opened a burial ground inside the tiny state’s walls looking for the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican clerk’s daughter.

The two tombs did not even contain the remains of the two 19th-century princesses supposed to be buried in them in 1836 and 1840. And one of the tombs led to a large underground room, roughly 4 by 3.7 metres, that was “completely empty”, the Vatican said. 

The Holy See reopened the Orlandi case in April.

Orlandi’s brother, Pietro, said a note received by the family and other clues suggested her body could be in the cemetery where a stone angel holds a scroll reading in Latin “Rest in peace”. 

The graveyard on the site of the Emperor Nero’s circus in the shadow of St Peter’s Basilica is a burial ground for German-speaking Catholics. Tourists are denied access to the graveyard.

Bones discovered near the Vatican’s embassy to Italy in 2018 revived interest in Orlandi’s disappearance, but the remains were not Emanuela.

The disappearance of Orlandi and Mirella Gregori, another 15-year-old girl, around the same time have been the subject of speculation in Italy for decades.

Emanuela disappeared after she went to a music lesson in June 1983. 

The family lived inside the Vatican City at the time. 

The Italian investigative reporter Emiliano Fittipaldi claimed last year that a leaked document showed the Vatican spent around €250,000 on the case between 1983 and 1997.

The Vatican denied Fittipaldi’s allegations.

Her brother, Pietro Orlandi, attended the grave opening. 

He clings to the remote chance his sister is still alive.

“She and I had a very close relationship. We both liked music, She was trying to teach me a Chopin piece, we only got through two pages and then she went missing. I hope one day she comes back to teach me the rest.”

He remains troubled by his final memories of her. 

“Last time we met was actually not a very nice memory. We had a fight because she had a music lesson. It was really hot, and I refused to go with her because I had something else going on. So she slammed the door and left, and that’s the memory I have,” Pietro added. 

“I’ve often thought, what if I had actually gone with her?”


Emanuela Orlandi. Picture credit: YouTube 




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