• The Vatican has announced it is opening two tombs within a cemetery on Holy See territory to see if Emanuela Orlandi, the teenage girl who went missing 36 years ago, is buried there.

    The two tombs are to be opened on 11 July, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, confirmed on Tuesday. Gisotti said that the decision was made by Vatican promoter of justice, Gian Piero Milano, and his assistant, Alessandro Diddi in response to the request of Emanuela Orlandi’s family and their questioning “the possible concealment of her cadaver in the small cemetery located within Vatican City State.”

    In April, the Vatican authorised the opening of an investigation into a tomb in the Teutonic Cemetery – a medieval cemetery reserved for Germans, Austrians, Dutch and Flemish people to be buried inside the walls of the Vatican – after the Orlandi family received an anonymous letter claiming the girl’s remains were buried there.

    The letter’s author refers to a marble statue of an angel positioned above a tomb and whose hand points to the ground. “Look where the angel is pointing,” the author says.

    The Orlandi family, the family’s lawyers, the families of others buried in the tombs and members of the Vatican police will attend the opening, Gisotti confirmed. He said opening the tombs is just the first step. The remains in the tombs will be inventoried and catalogued before tests are conducted on the age of the remains and their DNA.

    Emanuela, the daughter of a Vatican bank functionary, disappeared from the streets of Rome on her way to a music lesson in 1983.

    Among many theories of what happened to her, there has been speculation she was kidnapped by an organised crime gang or taken hostage in an attempt to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

    In 2005, an anonymous caller to an Italian television show said the secret to her kidnap was buried along with Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis, a Mafia boss who led the feared Magliana gang which terrorised Rome in the 1980s.

    Laura Sgrò, the family’s lawyer, has said she is “very happy” at the Vatican’s decision to investigate the tombs and thanked Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, for this “courageous act”.

    Source: The Tablet