Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Family of missing Vatican teen confronted with empty tombs

The tombs of two princesses in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery have been opened and found to be empty The tombs of two princesses in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery have been opened and found to
Deanna Wagner | 13 July, 2019, 18:05

The two Vatican tombs opened on 11 July in relation to the Emanuela Orlandi mystery have been found empty, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Not only did the tombs not contain Emanuela, they also did not contain two princesses thought to be buried there.

Bones found near the Vatican's embassy to Italy late a year ago revived interest in Orlandi's disappearance, but analysis of the remains showed they did not belong to Orlandi.

In March, there was a glimmer of hope, when Orlandi's family received a freakish tip from unnamed people that the girl's remains could be in a Vatican cemetery "where an angel was pointing".

The girl's disappearance has gripped Italians for more than three decades, inspiring conspiracy theories involving everyone from mobsters to global terrorists and the highest echelons of the Vatican.

"The last thing I expected was to find empty tombs", said her brother Pietro Orlandi, 60, who has never stopped hoping to find his sister alive.

Emanuela Orlandi is still missing-and now two long-dead princesses are, too.

The latest search for Orlandi, who vanished without a trace on 22 June 1983, followed an anonymous tip-off received last summer by her mother and brother, who still live within the Vatican's walls.

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Two empty tombs "A careful inspection of the tomb of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe brought to light a large underground space of about 4 meters by 3.70 that is completely empty".

Pietro Orlandi said that in a certain sense that no bones were found was "personally a relief", since it would have been upsetting to view remains that might have been those of his sister.

On the eve of the opening of the tombs, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, interviewed Giovanni Arcudi, the forensic anthropologist who was to lead the scientific investigation of the remains in the two tombs in the Vatican's Teutonic Cemetery. Another claim often repeated in the press was that she was abducted to force the release of Mehmet Ali Agca from prison, who was the Turk who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

The Holy See expressed its "attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi Family and in particular to Emanuela's mother", who still lives inside the Vatican.

When the family went to visit the site, they noticed that one of the tombs had recently been opened.

"The tomb had obviously been recently opened, there was new cement on it, but we didn't know why or when, we were given no information", Sgro told CBS News.

A second, similar grave alongside the first was also opened to rule out any misunderstandings over which grave was meant. As in, they didn't find the remains of Emanuela, but nor did they find the remains of either princess. DNA tests came back negative. There were renovations carried out in the cemetery at the end of the 1800's, and then again in the 1960s and 1970s.