Representational Pic
Representational Pic

Vatican City: The mystery surrounding the disappearance of an Italian teenager 36 years ago deepened Thursday after two graves at the Vatican thought to possibly hold her remains were discovered to be empty. Not only was Emanuela Orlandi's body not found, the tombs did not even hold the skeletons of the two princesses supposed to be buried there.

"The last thing I expected was to find empty tombs," said her brother Pietro Orlandi, 60, who has never stopped hoping to find his sister alive. The dig followed an anonymous tip-off that the Teutonic Cemetery in the tiny city state may be the last resting place of Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee.

She was last seen leaving a music class aged 15. Theories have circulated for decades about who took her and where her body may lie. "We're frankly astonished," said Laura Sgro, the Orlandi family lawyer.

"The family has a right to know what happened. Thirty-six years have passed, there have been three different popes at the Vatican," she said. "Someone knows, and is keeping quiet out of 'omerta' or fear. Emanuela must be found. Please contact us," Sgro added.

The family had been sent a picture of an angel-topped grave in the cemetery, and a message which simply read: "Look where the angel is pointing".

A second, similar grave alongside the first was also opened to rule out any misunderstandings over which grave was meant. The tombs belonged to two princesses, buried in 1836 and 1840. The small, leafy cemetery, located on the original site of the Emperor Nero circus, is usually the last resting place for German-speaking members of Catholic institutions.

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