News

Vatican Finds Empty Tombs in Search for Emanuela Orlandi

The Vatican opened two tombs looking for a 15-year-old girl who went missing in 1983—but they found nothing inside—not even the bones of two princesses who were supposed to be there.
 
On June 22, 1983 Emanuela Orlandi went to a music lesson, and was never seen again. Her father was a prominent Vatican employee, and their family lived inside Vatican City, so some wondered if her disappearance was connected to the Vatican, though the church allegedly denied it for years.
 
In the summer of 2018, 35 years after her disappearance, Emanuela’s family got an anonymous letter. It contained a photo of an angel sculpture and said, “Look where the angel is pointing.” This led them to the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City, where the tombs of Princess Sophia von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1840, were located.
 
This is not the first false alarm the Orlandi family has received. In 2012, a mobster’s tomb was opened to look for Emanuela’s remains. In 2018, bones found during construction at the Vatican sparked a media frenzy, though the DNA did not match hers.
 
Recently a Vatican spokesperson said the case has been “a long and painful one.”