Where did the remains of two German princesses go? That question arises after two burial cellars were opened in a cemetery in Vatican City last week in the investigation into the disappearance of an Italian girl 36 years ago. There was no trace of the teenager in the tombs. But the two German women who should have been buried there also disappeared. The Vatican is further investigating the matter.
In a statement, a spokesperson today announced that the remains of Sophie von Hohenlohe (who died in 1836) and Duchess Charlotte Friederika of Mecklenburg (who died in 1840) may have been relocated by works at the German College next to the cemetery. After it was discovered last week that both graves were empty, a series of investigations were started.
Old documents from the archives of the College show that there were expansion works on the site between 1960 and 1970. And so the researchers do not rule out the possibility that the remains of the German women were taken from the graves and had a final resting place elsewhere.
In the meantime, extra detective work revealed that there are two so-called charcuteries under the floor of a room in the nearby German College. These are areas where the bones of the deceased are kept, for example during the reorganization of a cemetery.
The two ossuaries are closed with a hatch and will be opened on July 20 for a forensic investigation into the search for the remains of the German princesses, the Vatican reports.
The mystery of the empty graves came to light during the investigation into the disappearance of the Italian teenage girl Emanuela Orlandi (15) more than 30 years ago. It is also a mysterious story that has captivated Italy for several decades.
Emanuela was the daughter of a staff member at the Vatican and was last seen on June 22, 1983, when she was from a music class in Rome. Until today it is not clear what happened to her. This gave rise to a range of rumors and conspiracy theories. For example, there are all kinds of theories about a kidnapping by clergymen or diplomats for sex orgies. Another 15-year-old girl, Mirella Gregori, would be the victim of that. She disappeared in Rome on 7 May 1983 and is still without a trace.
The lawyer of the Orlandi family received an anonymous letter last summer suggesting that the girl is buried in the Campo Santo Teutonico of Vatican City, near the residence of Pope Francis and St. Peter’s Basilica. The letter included the message “search for the place where the angel points”, a reference to an angel in marble that is effective in the cemetery. And so the Vatican ordered the opening of two graves. That happened last Thursday.
The excavations did not, however, provide answers, but only raised more questions: where did the mortal remains of the two German women go? It remains to be seen whether research in the recently discovered charcoal cottages can provide an answer to this.