Vatican Reopens Case of Missing Girl Emanuela Orlandi

ROME—The Vatican has decided to reopen its investigation of a four-decade old mystery, after a popular


documentary drew renewed attention to the case late last year.

Vatican prosecutors will re-examine the case of

Emanuela Orlandi,

who disappeared from a Rome street at the age of 15 in 1983. The decision comes after persistent lobbying by Ms. Orlandi’s family. 

Matteo Bruni,

director of the Holy See Press Office, said Monday that the Vatican’s chief prosecutor,

Alessandro Diddi,

“has confirmed that he opened a file, also on the basis of requests made by the family” of Ms. Orlandi.

Mr. Bruni declined to say whether the Netflix documentary, “Vatican Girl,” might have influenced the decision to reopen the case, which was earlier reported by Italy’s Adnkronos news agency.

The Orlandi family’s lawyer Lauro Sgrò said on Monday that they had learned about the decision from news reports. “We are happy and we trust there will be a careful and in-depth investigation. If any responsibility lies within the Vatican, it is time for that to emerge. We need to deliver the truth to the family,” Ms. Sgrò said.

Over the decades, the young Ms. Orlandi’s disappearance has intrigued and disturbed Italians and spawned a host of speculative theories purporting to explain it, including connecting it with corruption at the Vatican Bank, the 1981 attempt to assassinate St.

John Paul II,

and the Mafia.

On June 22, 1983, Ms. Orlandi, one of five children of a Vatican employee whose family lived inside Vatican walls, traveled about a mile for a music class in another part of Rome. She was seen talking to a man in a green


that afternoon. Since then, there has been no verified sighting of her. Investigations by Italian authorities have failed to reach a definitive conclusion about what happened.

In 2012, the tomb of a Rome crime boss was opened on a tip that her remains might be there. But her bones weren’t found. In 2019, following a tip that her remains might be buried in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery near St. Peter’s Basilica, officials opened two tombs there but found no human remains or funerary urns inside.

Write to Francis X. Rocca at

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