The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that the search for the remains of missing 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi took another twist as Vatican officials discovered “thousands” of human bones in a previously unknown ossuary on Saturday. It is unclear if any of the bones belong to Orlandi, or how old they are.
On July 11, the Vatican opened two tombs belonging to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who both died in the mid-19th century. The tombs, located in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Vatican City State, were found to be completely empty of any human remains. Scientists were initially puzzled by this unforeseen development.
Afterwards, Vatican officials realized that restoration and structural work done in the 1960s and 1970s likely resulted in remains being moved.
This led to the discovery of two ossuaries underneath the Teutonic College, which held containers of bones. Ossuaries are container, or even rooms, used to store skeletal remains after the rest of the body has decomposed. They are common in areas where underground burial space is limited.
Orlandi’s family think that Emanuela’s remains are possibly in the ossuary.
Giorgio Portera, a forensic expert working with the family, explained that the bones were not sorted, and were mixed together “all piled up inside a cavity.”