Pope Offers Prayers to Family of Missing ‘Vatican Girl’

Pope Francis expressed his sympathy and offered prayers to the family of Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican schoolgirl, who vanished four decades ago, becoming one of Italy’s most puzzling unresolved cases.

Orlandi, 15 years old at the time and the child of a Vatican employee, didn’t return home on June 22, 1983, after attending a music class in the heart of Rome. The mystery around her disappearance gained renewed global interest after Netflix launched the series “Vatican Girl” in the latter part of the previous year.

Acknowledging the 40th year since her disappearance, Pope Francis conveyed his ongoing support for Orlandi’s family, particularly her mother, and assured them of his continued prayers.

While delivering his Angelus message, Pope Francis addressed the audience in St Peter’s Square, which included Orlandi’s brother, Pietro. Pietro Orlandi has been a persistent advocate for the Vatican to reveal more information about his sister’s disappearance.

Pietro, along with a group of advocates displaying pictures and banners demanding “truth” and “justice,” greeted the Pope’s statement. He described it as a “positive signal” and “a significant progress” in an interview with the Italian news agency ANSA.

Suspicion of wrongdoing has consistently been associated with the Orlandi case. This year, Vatican and Italian authorities have resumed investigations into the matter, with potential new leads being explored.

Speculations regarding Orlandi’s disappearance have ranged from claims that it was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Pope John Paul II, to the suggestion she was abducted by Rome’s criminal underworld, to allegations she fell victim to a group of pedophile priests.

Earlier this year, Pietro Orlandi presented an audio recording on Italian television, allegedly from a criminal who claimed girls were taken into the Vatican for sexual abuse, and that John Paul II was aware of it.

Pope Francis refuted the allegations as “offensive and baseless” in April.