Thousands of bones discovered in search for long-missing Vatican teen

Catholic News Agency | 7/22/2019 | Staff
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Vatican City, Jul 22, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The search for the remains of missing 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi took another twist as Vatican officials discovered “thousands” of human bones in a previously unknown ossuary on Saturday. It is unclear if any of the bones belong to Orlandi, or how old they are.

On July 11, the Vatican opened two tombs belonging to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who both died in the mid-19th century. The tombs, located in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Vatican City State, were found to be completely empty of any human remains. Scientists were initially puzzled by this unforeseen development.

Afterwards - Vatican - Officials - Restoration - Work

Afterwards, Vatican officials realized that restoration and structural work done in the 1960s and 1970s likely resulted in remains being moved. This led to the discovery of two ossuaries underneath the Teutonic College, which held containers of bones. Ossuaries are container, or even rooms, used to store skeletal remains after the rest of the body has decomposed. They are common in areas where underground burial space is limited.

Members of Orlandi’s family, as well as their lawyer and a forensic expert, were present at the opening of the containers.

Orlandi - Sister - Frederica - Opening - Experience

Orlandi’s sister, Frederica, described the opening as an “emotional experience” and thinks that Emanuela’s remains are possibly in the ossuary.

Her brother, Pietro, described the discovery as “a large number of diverse bones,” and noted the need to identify and date the remains. Giorgio Portera, a forensic expert working with the family, estimated the total number of bones found indicated “the presence of the remains of a few dozen people.”

Bones - Bones - Portera - Cavity

“There are long bones, small bones, many are fragmented,” said Portera. He explained they were not sorted, and were mixed together “all piled up inside a cavity.”

There are 206 bones in an adult...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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