On Tuesday, a new development was added to the decades-long mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Vatican schoolgirl, as the missing girl’s brother met with a Vatican investigator authorized by Pope Francis to pursue the case wherever it may lead, regardless of the consequences.

Emanuela Orlandi, then 15, was a Vatican teenager who mysteriously vanished on her way home from a flute lesson on June 22, 1983. Her family were residents of Vatican City, where her father was a lay employee in the papal household.


Emanuela’s brother, Pietro, had been passionately fighting for a reopening of the case for some time. After several requests from him and the Orlandi’s family lawyer, Laura Sgrò, it was confirmed by The Vatican’s promoter of justice, Alessandro Diddi, that the case that has gripped the nation of Italy for years was back under formal investigation. This action was taken after Diddi was handed down the case files from his predecessor.


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A Netflix-produced show called The Vatican Girl was released late last year. The series has refocused international attention to the unsolved case, as well as stirred up many conspiracy theories regarding the nature of her disappearance and the potential motives behind it.

In the four-part series, Pietro posits that those connected to the Vatican elite harbor the knowledge of his sister’s fate, alleging along with filmmaker Mark Lewis and Italian journalist Purgatori that Emanuela’s disappearance was an attempt to blackmail the Vatican.

A friend of Emanuela Orlandi, who appears in the Netflix documentary, claims that Orlandi was sexually assaulted by “someone close to the pope” shortly before her disappearance. Orlandi disclosed the incident to the friend before vanishing a few days later.

Vatican Girl also investigates the possibility that Orlandi was sent to a convent in London as a consequence. The documentary examines a leaked Vatican report, where expenses were incurred during Orlandi’s potential 14-year stay at the London convent.

The meeting on Tuesday marks a significant step in the nearly half-century-old mystery, one that has seen Italian authorities accuse The Vatican of dragging their feet and not fully cooperating with the investigation.

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