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Search for Missing Teenager in Vatican Cemetery Unearths Thousands of Bones

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Post by Cloud on Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:54 am

VATICAN CITY — Less than 10 days after Vatican officials said they found no evidence that the daughter of an employee who disappeared 36 years ago had been buried in a cemetery inside Vatican City, a new foray there unearthed two ossuaries Saturday that contained unidentified human bones.


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Earlier this month, workers opened two tombs on Vatican’s grounds as part of an inquiry into the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, 15.CreditCreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images


Whether any of them belonged to the girl, Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared at age 15 in 1983, was not possible to say immediately.

Video: On July 11, two graves thought to hold the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, an Italian teenager who disappeared 36 years ago, were revealed to be empty when they were opened at the Vatican (AFP)


Laura Sgro, the Orlandi family lawyer who was present during Saturday’s examination, said that the two ossuaries were underground, in a building adjacent to the cemetery, and that they contained “very many bones.”

“Certainly some are historic, older, but at first sight it’s not possible to do an accurate dating,” she told reporters.

Ossuaries are repositories for skeletal remains and are common throughout Europe, used mostly when cemeteries become overcrowded. In the case of the Teutonic cemetery, the ossuaries were underground cavities.

“They found thousands of bones,” said Giorgio Portera, the Orlandi family’s forensic expert, who hypothesized that they belonged to “dozens of persons.” He said the bones had not been catalogued or kept in an orderly manner, but were “piled up in a cavity.”

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On Saturday, all the bones were gathered into 24 bags and sealed, Ms. Sgro said.


Without quantifying the number of skeletal remains that had been found, Vatican officials said in a statement that it was not possible “at the moment to predict how long it will take to complete a morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries.”

For centuries, the Teutonic cemetery, where the search for Emanuela went on this month, was the final resting place for people of Germanic origin. When officials entered it on July 11 and opened two tombs identified as the possible repositories of Emanuela’s remains they found nothing, not even the bones of the two princesses who were supposed to have been buried there in 1836 and 1840.

Seeking an explanation for the missing skeletal remains, the Vatican dug further into its records and found that renovations had been carried out in the area in the 1960s and ’70s. The bones from the empty tombs may have been moved at that time.

Then, a week ago, Vatican officials said they had found the two ossuaries under a trapdoor inside the Pontifical Teutonic College, next to the cemetery.

It was just the newest twist in one of Italy’s most enduring mysteries.

Emanuela vanished on June 22, 1983, on her way home from a music lesson. Investigations into her disappearance have taken numerous, sometimes improbable, turns, and conspiracy theories have flourished.


Her disappearance has been linked to the Sicilian Mafia, to a notorious Rome crime gang, to Bulgarian agents and to a 1981 plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Speculation has tied the case to the K.G.B., the C.I.A. and an American archbishop who was linked to a major Vatican banking scandal in the 1980s.

Some said Emanuela had moved to London, where she lived under a different name.

None of those theories have been borne out.

Continued:

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