Vatican analyzes bones found in crypts

AFP-JijiVATICAN CITY (AFP-Jiji) — The Vatican on Saturday opened two burial chambers discovered under a trapdoor as it attempts to get to the bottom of a riddle involving two 19th-century princesses and a teenager who went missing 36 years ago.

The ossuaries were found earlier this month under the floor of the Pontifical Teutonic College after the shock discovery that the bones of the princesses had disappeared from tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery.

The graves of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Charlotte Federica of Mecklenburg, who died in 1836 and 1840, were exhumed after an anonymous tip-off that they may hold the remains of a missing Italian youngster.

Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, was last seen leaving a music class in Rome in 1983 aged 15, and theories have circulated for decades about who could have taken her and where her body might lie.

The family had received a picture of an angel-topped grave in the Teutonic cemetery, and a message which simply read: “Look where the angel is pointing.”

But in a surprise twist, not only was there no trace of Orlandi, the remains of the princesses were gone too.

The Vatican said the bones were likely moved during work on the cemetery and college during the 1960s and 1970s.

On Saturday, bones were unearthed from under the Pontifical Teutonic College and analysed at the site by Professor Giovanni Arcudi — a specialist in forensic medicine appointed by the Holy See — in the presence of an expert appointed by the Orlandi family, the Vatican said in a statement.

Morphological analysis of the bones “will continue on Saturday, July 27,” it added. Earlier, the Vatican said it was “not possible, for the moment, to predict how long it will take.”

A sample would be taken from each set of remains for DNA analysis.

“We didn’t expect there to be so many bones,” said a geneticist appointed by the family, Giorgio Portera. “Thousands of bones have been found so we imagine they correspond to dozens of people.”Speech

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