Vatican Girl: The Mysterious Case Behind the Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi

The disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi is one of the strangest and most mysterious cases Vatican City has recorded.

Isabel Cara

This year Netflix released the docuseries Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, which talks about the chilling unsolved case of the 15-year-old girl who disappeared in the vicinity of the Pope’s residence.

Who Is Emanuela Orlandi?

On June 22, 1983, one of the strangest and most mysterious cases in Vatican City was recorded. Emanuela Orlandi, a minor of only 15 years of age, disappeared in very strange circumstances without leaving any trace of her whereabouts. After losing track of her, some people claimed to have seen her in the city, but none of them had sufficient proof.

Emanuela was the fourth of five siblings. Her father was Ercole Orlandi, who worked in the Vatican Prefecture, organizing papal audiences, so he resided with the rest of his family in Vatican City. Pietro Orlandi, one of the younger sister’s brothers, said that “they felt that she lived in the safest place in the world.”

Emanuela Orlandi attended flute lessons at the Tommaso Ludovico Da Victoria School, linked to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. She was also a member of the choir of the Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri church in the Vatican.

Emanuela orlandi disappearance vatican girl 1 - vatican girl: the mysterious case behind the disappearance of emanuela orlandi

Chronology of Emanuela Orlandi’s Disappearance

June 22, 1983: The Day She Disappeared

On the morning of Wednesday, June 22, 1983, Emanuela Orlandi asked her older brother Pietro to accompany her to her flute lesson; however, due to other commitments, the young man refused to do so. (Sometime after his younger sister’s disappearance, the man revealed feeling guilty for not accompanying her, he claims he never imagined he would ever see her again).

While Emanuela was on her way to class, she was approached by an alleged Avon representative, who offered her an opening in the company. The minor stayed several minutes chatting with the man, so she was late for school. After becoming aware of the delay, she called her sister to let her know, who even asked her not to decide on the Avon man’s proposal until she could discuss it with her parents. After leaving her flute lesson, the teenager was caught with another person at the bus stop, where according to witnesses in the area, she got into a dark-colored BMW. This was the last trace of Emanuela.

June 23, 1983: The Minor’s Face in the Media

Local authorities make Emanuela’s disappearance official. The minor’s face begins to circulate in all the media in the area. From newspapers to television newscasts talk about the case and ask the citizens to support with any type of information to find the whereabouts of the 15-year-old girl.

June 25, 1983: First Approach

The first approach was made with information from witnesses since the parents of the minor received a call from a teenager named Pierluigi, who claimed to have seen the minor in the Vatican City, only that he called himself by another name and mentioned that he had run away from home and was now selling Avon products. The young man even gave precise information about the physical appearance of the woman he had found.

June 28, 1983: The Phone Calls Begin

Three days after Pierluigi’s call, the family now received a call from a man, who also claimed to have seen Emanuela in the city, even with the same story as the teenager, because according to his information, the young woman told him that she had run away from home and that she would return until her sister’s marriage. Days later, the calls from people claiming to have seen her continued. Emanuela’s face filled all the streets of Rome.

July 3, 1983: It Reached the Ears of John Paul II.

The name of Emanuela Orlandi reached the ears of Pope John Paul II himself, who during the Angelus, appealed to those responsible for the disappearance of the young girl, which awakened the hypothesis that she had been kidnapped, since up to that moment there was not much official information about her disappearance.

Emanuela orlandi disappearance vatican girl 4 - vatican girl: the mysterious case behind the disappearance of emanuela orlandi

Kidnapped by a Terrorist Group?

During the process of an intense search, Emanuela’s family began to receive some anonymous calls from an alleged terrorist group, which claimed to have kidnapped the young woman and to be able to return her they asked for the immediate release of Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turk who shot the Pope in May 1981.

Sometime after those first calls, the parents were contacted by a man identified as ‘The American,’ because of his accent, who presented them with a recording in which the voice of the minor could be heard.

Hours later, the same person contacted the Vatican directly asking for an exchange of Emanuela Orlandi for Mehmet Ali Ağca. In addition, he assured that the first calls in which they said that the teenager had been captured in the city selling Avon had been from people who belonged to his organization.

July 6, 1983: Ultimatum for John Paul II

Men from this alleged organization gave the Pope a 20-day deadline for the release of the Turk, although the magistrate in charge of Orlandi’s case did not believe there was a credible connection. Another ultimatum was given on July 20 of the same year, but nothing happened.

May 2012: New Information on the Case

The police searched the grave of Enrico De Pedis, then the then exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, claimed that Emanuela Orlandi had been kidnapped by a member of the Vatican police for sex parties and then murdered. He claimed that officials of an unidentified foreign embassy were involved in this case.

Emanuela orlandi disappearance vatican girl 2 - vatican girl: the mysterious case behind the disappearance of emanuela orlandi

Alleged Theories Emerge

The case of Emanuela Orlandi not only alerted Rome but also the whole world, as it seemed that the teenager had simply been swallowed up by the earth. Almost four decades later, there is still no information that clarifies the case of the disappearance of the minor.

In all this time, a few conspiracy theories have emerged regarding the disappearance of the young girl, among them the Italian mafia is mentioned, while others claim that she was harassed by someone close to the upper echelons of the Holy See, who was protected, even by Pope John Paul II himself.

Vatican Girl: The Disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi

Under the command of director Mark Lewis, Netflix revisits one of the most controversial and intriguing cases that have occurred in the Holy See, almost 40 years later, no one still knows what happened to that teenager from Rome named Emanuela Orlandi.

This docuseries presents the key points about the case of the disappearance of the young girl, as well as opinions of the family and testimonies that until now had not been made public.

Story written in Spanish by Javier Cisneros in Cultura Colectiva News

Polish Woman Claiming to be Madeleine McCann Receives DNA Results