The Vatican said Thursday it will hand over evidence in the disappearance of a 15-year-old daughter of one of its employees 40 years ago to the Rome city prosecutor.
Emanuela Orlandi, who was the daughter of a prominent Vatican employee and lived within the walls of the holy city, disappeared in the summer of 1983 while on her way home from a music lesson in central Rome.
The Vatican – which has come under scrutiny over the years for its handling of the case – announced in January that it had opened a fresh investigation.
In a statement Thursday, the Vatican said that the office of Alessandro Diddi, the Vatican promoter of justice, has “collected all the evidence available in the various institutions of the Vatican and the Holy See, while also seeking evidence through conversations with the persons in charge of certain offices at the time of the events.”
Diddi said through the Vatican press office that he had found “some investigatory leads that merit further consideration.” His office will therefore be sending “all the relevant documents in the past weeks to the Prosecutor of Rome, so that he can review them and proceed in the direction he considers most opportune.”
It was unclear what the documents refer to, if they are new or from archives.
Thursday’s development marks the first time that the Vatican has publicly handed over documents to Italian authorities.
The statement suggested that the Vatican’s investigation was now complete, but Diddi pledged to “continue his activities in this direction in the coming months,” while remaining “aware of the suffering one feels for the disappearance of a relative.”
Orlandi disappeared on June 22, 1983 after a lesson at a music school adjacent to the Sant’Apollinare Opus Dei Catholic Church near Piazza Navona in Rome.
Her father, Ercole Orlandi, who died in 2004, worked for the Institute for the Works of Religion in the Holy See. Her mother, Maria Orlandi, still lives in the family apartment in Vatican City. Her brother, Pietro Orlandi, has spent his life trying to uncover what happened to his sister and has often blamed the Vatican for hiding information.
He has called for a rally this Sunday in Rome in front of Castel Sant’ Angelo, the latest location thought to be where the young girl’s body might be buried, and then proceed to St. Peter’s square to be present when the Pope gives his Sunday Angelus. Orlandi holds rallies every year around the disappearance anniversary.
A four-part Netflix series by Mark Lewis released last year sparked renewed interest in the high profile case and highlighted several of the most prominent conspiracy theories, including that her kidnapping was connected to Mehmet Ali Agca, who was at the time in prison for an assassination attempt on John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in 1981.
Searches for Orlandi’s remains have been conducted many times over the last four decades. Human remains were found in 2018 at the Holy See embassy to Italy in central Rome, but said DNA tests did not establish a match.
A year later, the Vatican agreed to exhume the tomb of two princesses thought to be buried in the cemetery of the Pontifical Teutonic College inside the Vatican City. The princesses’ remains were not found in the tomb, nor were Orlandi’s, but two ossuaries were found under a secret door in the cemetery.