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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Forensic experts to study ‘thousands of bones’ found in Vatican ossuaries

During a search for the remains of a young Italian woman missing for more than 30 years, workers discovered an enormous number of bones inside two ossuaries in a building next to a Vatican cemetery.

Further studies on the remains will be carried out starting on 27th July, but it was not yet possible to predict how long it would take to conduct a “detailed morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries,” Alessandro Gisotti, outgoing interim director of the Vatican press office, said on 20th July.

Gisotti said the investigation, led by a Vatican-appointed specialist in forensic medicine, Giovanni Arcudi, was being carried out according to internationally recognised protocols.

Workers spent six hours on 20th July inspecting two small underground cavities under an opening in the floor of the Pontifical Teutonic College.

A genetics expert retained by the Giovanni Arcudi family told reporters on 20th July that the workers found what appeared to be “thousands of bones” belonging to perhaps dozens of individuals, both adult and minors.

The expert, Giorgio Portera, said, “I can’t say if it’s 1,000 or 2,000, but there are really very many” bones and bone fragments, leading him to assume they might represent “the remains of a few dozen people.”

Picture: Workers inspect an ossuary at the Teutonic Cemetery at the Vatican on 20th July 2019. The ossuary was inspected in the hope of finding the missing remains of a German princess and duchess and possibly the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983. Thousands of bones were found in the ossuary, according to a representative of the Orlandi family who was present for the search. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).