Renovation at Vatican embassy in Rome uncovers human remains

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Vatican gendarmerie. Credit: Gaspard Miltiade/Wikimedia commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Human bone fragments have been discovered during the renovation of a building connected to the Holy See’s apostolic nunciature in Rome, the Vatican said late Tuesday.

Rome’s chief prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone, has called for a forensic examination of the remains to determine age, sex, and date of death. It is yet unknown if they belong to one or more people.

The Vatican gendarmerie was called promptly to the location, the Holy See press office said Oct. 30. The remains were found in the basement of a building owned by the Holy See in Rome, which sits on Vatican extra-territororial property.

The release states that the gendarmerie “immediately informed Italian authorities” in order to carry out a collaborative investigation.

Rome’s prosecutors are investigating the case as a possible homicide.

Italian newspaper ANSA reports that tests of the bones are focusing on the skull and teeth to establish identity. According to local media, the discovery of the bones has resurfaced speculation about two unsolved cases from 1983, in which 15-year-old girls Emanuela Orlandi and Mirella Gregori went missing.

Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the Prefecture of the Pontifical House and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance has been the subject of international intrigue since it occurred 35 years ago. After multiple investigations over the years, her case was officially closed in 2016.

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