Vatican to open tombs in Orlandi search

Orlandi family hope to solve 36-year old mystery.

The Vatican has ordered the opening of two tombs in a cemetery adjacent to St Peter's in the latest effort to solve the mystery surrounding Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old girl who disappeared 36 years ago.

The Vatican will exhume the tombs at the Teutonic College on 11 July in response to a request from the Orlandi family, and the Holy See says that any bones found will undergo DNA analysis.

The daughter of an employee at the Vatican Bank, Orlandi disappeared while returning to her family home in Vatican City after a music lesson at the Basilica of S. Apollinare in Rome.

The latest search for Orlandi, who vanished on 22 June 1983, follows an anonymous tip-off received last summer by her mother and brother, who still live within the Vatican's walls.

The letter suggested they "seek where the angel indicates," leading the family to the Teutonic cemetery which contains a statue of an angel pointing.

Over the decades the unsolved Orlandi case has sparked conspiracy theories ranging from kidnap by a terrorist group demanding the release of Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square in 1981, to the involvement of the Banda della Magliana, Rome’s notorious criminal gang founded in the 1970s.

In 2018 human remains found underneath the Vatican nunciature to Italy, located in Rome's Parioli district, sparked speculation that Orlandi might have finally been found. However DNA testing revealed that the bones belonged to a man who died sometime between the years 90 and 230 AD.