The Vatican this morning released a statement on the death in France of Vincent Lambert: “We received the news of Vincent Lambert’s death with pain. We pray that the Lord will welcome him into His house and we express closeness to his loved ones and to those who, up to the end, committed themselves to assist him with love and dedication. Let us remember and reiterate what the Holy Father said when he spoke of this painful affair: ‘God is the only master of life from the beginning to the natural end and it is our duty to remember this always and not to give in to the throwaway culture’.”

Vincent Lambert became a quadriplegic after a motorbike accident 11 years ago and has been in a persistent vegetative state since then. Symbolizing the right to life debate in France – and for some, the right to die – Lambert’s feeding tubes were removed by doctors against the wishes of family.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, tweeted today: En ce triste jour, je prie pour le repos éternel de l’âme de Vincent Lambert, mort en martyr, victime de la folie effrayante des hommes de notre temps. Je prie pour sa famille et en particulier pour ses parents, si courageux, si dignes. N’ayons pas peur. Dieu veille. +RS (On this sad day, I pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Vincent Lambert, who died as a martyr, a victim of the frightful madness of the men of our time. I pray for his family and especially for his parents, so brave, so worthy. Do not be afraid. God watches. RS +)

A tweet from the Pontifical Academy for Life in both French and Italian: Monsignor Paglia and all the @PontAcadLife pray for the family of #VincentLambert, for the doctors, for all the people involved in this affair. The death of #VincentLambert and his story are a defeat for our humanity.


Holy See Press Office interim director Alessandri Gisotti issued the following statement at noon today:

“The operations at the Campo Santo Teutonico were concluded at 11.15 am within the scope of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Results of the research were negative: no human remains or funerary urns were found. The careful inspection of the tomb of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe has unearthed a large underground compartment of about 4 meters by 3.70, completely empty. Subsequently the opening operations of the second tomb-sarcophagus took place, that of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Inside it, no human remains have been found. The family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research.

“The staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, professor Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, collaborated with the investigations. The Orlandi family’s lawyer, Laura Sgrò, and Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, were present. The Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Gian Piero Milano, and his Assistant Alessandro Diddi, together with the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani, followed all phases of the operation.

“For further details, documentary checks are underway concerning the structural interventions that have taken place in the area of the Campo Santo Teutonico, in a first phase at the end of the nineteenth century, and in a second more recent phase between the 1960s and 1970s.

“At the end of the work, we would like to reiterate that the Holy See has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi Family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother. Attention demonstrated also in this occasion in accepting the specific request of the family to check the Campo Santo Teutonico (for alleged remains).”

Earlier this morning he had released the following statement:

“At 8.15 am this morning, after a prayer led by the Rector of the Teutonic College in front of the two sepulchres, regular operations began at the Campo Santo Teutonico (Teutonic cemetery) as part of the investigative aspects of the Orlandi case. At the moment, it is not possible to predict how much time will be needed for completing such operations that involve about fifteen people.

“In particular, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro is operating for the opening and closing of the tombs, while overseeing the discovery will be done by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the Orlandi family. Present were the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, his Deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, and the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani.

”As indicated in the decree of the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, the operations concern the “Tomb of the Angel” of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and the adjacent tomb of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Although the grave indicated by the lawyer of the Orlandi Family is, in fact, that with the Angel who holds in his hands an open book with the inscription “Requiescat in pace”, the Promoter of Justice, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings about what the indicated grave could be, ordered the opening of both tombs as they are neighboring tombs and both with similar niches.

”For procedural reasons and in accordance with the secrecy of the investigation, the identity of the relatives of the two buried princesses will not be disclosed; obviously these are descendants who have been informed of the operations and who, for the sake of the truth, have guaranteed their complete availability and collaboration with the Holy See and in particular with the Office of the Promoter of Justice.


Since the July 2 announcement by the Vatican that two tombs would be opened on July 11 in its Teutonic Cemetery to ascertain whether or not the remains of Emanuela Orlandi were in one of the tombs, the Vatican has been providing news and background stories, including an interview with the forensic anthropologist commissioned by the Vatican judiciary to examine findings and take samples for DNA testing following the opening of two tombs in the Vatican on Thursday.

Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of a Vatican employee who vanished mysteriously 36 years ago on her way to a music lesson.

Now we know that today’s findings will not give closure to the many people involved – those workers assembled to open the tombs, the lawyers of the Orlandi family and the families or descendants of the people whose names were on the grave headstones opened today, members of the Orlandi family, Vatican security personnel, witnesses, etc.

The announcement on July 2 of the opening of the tombs said the decision to do so was part of one of the files opened following a request by the family of Emanuela Orlandi who, in recent months, had reported the possible concealment of her body in the small cemetery located within the territory of the Vatican State.

That press office announcement also stated: “The decision comes after a phase of investigations during which the Office of the Promoter – with the help of the Gendarmerie Corps – carried out investigations aimed at reconstructing the main judicial stages of this long and painful and complex case. It should be remembered that for legal reasons the Vatican investigating authority has no jurisdiction to investigate Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance in Italy; investigations which, moreover, have been conducted by Italian investigators – from the earliest stages – with scrupulosity and professional rigor. Therefore, the Vatican initiative concerns only the ascertainment of the possible burial of the body of Emanuela Orlandi in the territory of the Vatican State.”

Whatever else can be done to discover what happened to Emanuela Orlandi after more than three decades of various leads have been exhausted is now in the hands of Italian authorities and possibly any police and investigative authorities in other countries with whom Italian officials have been in touch.