Pope wants to shed light on the 40-year-old mystery of the missing girl from the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – One of Italy’s most enduring mysteries – the disappearance of a Vatican schoolgirl 40 years ago – entered a new chapter on Tuesday when her brother met with a Vatican investigator whom Pope Francis has given free rein to investigate the reason for going the case, wherever it may lead.

Over the past four decades, graves have been opened, bones exhumed from forgotten burial sites and conspiracy theories abound to try to find out what has become of Emanuela Orlandi.

The daughter of a Vatican servant whose family lived in the Vatican, Orlandi, then 15, did not return home on June 22, 1983 after a music lesson in Rome.

The case, which has been the subject of ongoing investigations in Italy and the Vatican, has garnered renewed global attention following the release of the Netflix series Vatican Girl late last year.

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In January, Vatican Attorney General Alessandro Diddi reopened an earlier inconclusive investigation into the Vatican after inheriting files from his retired predecessor.

Emanuela’s older brother Pietro and family lawyer Laura Sgro met with Diddi at the Vatican on Tuesday afternoon.

In an interview in Corriere della Sera ahead of the meeting, Diddi said Pope Francis wanted “the truth to come out without reservations.” He said the pope had an “iron will” in this case.

The theories about Orlandi’s disappearance are varied. In the 1980s, Italian media speculated that she had been kidnapped to secure freedom for Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk jailed in 1981 for attempting to assassinate Pope John Paul II, although nothing came of the connection and the proposal faded.

Other reports linked it to the tomb of Enrico De Pedis, a gangster buried in a Roman basilica. His tomb was opened in 2012, but nothing was revealed, and in the Corriere della Sera interview, Diddi said the suspected link between the girl’s disappearance and the crime clan of Rome had been “overstated”.

In 2019, the Orlandi family received an anonymous letter that said Emanuela’s body may be hidden among the dead in the German Cemetery, just inside the walls of the Vatican, where a statue of an angel holding a book “Requiescat in Pace” reads read is Latin for “rest in peace”. “.

Two tombs were opened and nothing was found, not even the bones of two 19th-century princesses who were supposed to be buried there. They had apparently moved decades before Orlandi was born during restructuring works.

In 2018, bones found during groundwork at the Vatican Embassy in Rome sparked a media frenzy suggesting they could belong to Orlandi or Mirella Gregori, another teenager who disappeared that same year. DNA tests came back negative.

Last month, Italy’s lower house approved the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the disappearance of the two girls.

Police have never ruled out the possibility that Orlandi was kidnapped and possibly killed or trafficked for reasons unrelated to the Vatican.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft

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