Vatican tomb examinations come up empty-handed

Vatican tomb examinations come up empty-handed

Vatican tomb examinations come up empty-handed

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica is seen from the Teutonic cemetery at the Vatican. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

On Thursday much of the excitement over the opening of two Vatican tombs in search of the remains of a missing Italian teen was put to rest when the graves, belonging to two German princesses, were found empty.

ROME – On Thursday much of the excitement over the opening of two Vatican tombs in search of the remains of a missing Italian teen was put to rest when the graves, belonging to two German princesses, were found empty.

According to two July 11 statements from Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, work on opening the tombs, located in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery, began around 8:15 a.m. Thursday morning and concluded at 11:15 a.m., however, the search “yielded negative results: no human remains or funerary urns were found.”

The young woman whose remains were at the center of the search is Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a clerk in the Prefecture of the Papal Household who disappeared in 1983. Her case has never been solved, and in the years since her disappearance, she has become the center of endless conspiracy theories in the Italian press.

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On June 27, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Gian Piero Milano, ordered two tombs located near the statue to be opened in an effort to determine if Orlandi’s remains were there after receiving a request from Orlandi’s family.

Two tombs belonging to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica de Mecklemburgo were examined, and both found “completely empty,” according to Gisotti, who said the families of the princesses have been informed of the findings.

Lawyers for both the Orlandis and the Vatican were present when the tombs were opened to document the procedures, as were Vatican technicians and the commander of the Vatican Gendarmes.

Gisotti said further documentary checks are underway about the reconstruction in the Teutonic Cemetery that took place in two phases, the first at the end of the 19th century, and the second between the 1960s-70s.

“The Holy See has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother,” Gisotti said, adding that this attention was demonstrated again in accepting their request to examine the tombs.

Follow Elise Harris on Twitter: @eharris_it


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