This is a story of angels and demons, but it’s not a fiction by Dan Brown. It’s reality. However, we would have preferred it to be just a fiction with a gangster, a bishop, a politician and a teen-age girl as main characters, so to speak. A fiction where those that were supposed to play as angels preferred to act as demons and the demons remained demons. In short: it was hell, with still no redemption on earth, just for the pure one, teen Emanuela Orlandi that disappeared the 22nd of June 1983, when she was going back home from her music class, around 7.30 pm, in the mild temperature of a Roman early summer evening. Yesterday Mr Uòlter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome for nearly 8 years and runner up at the Italian political elections of 2008 Vs. Mr. Berlusconi, added a new chapter to the criminal saga of the Banda delle Magliana, by officially asking to the Interior Ministry in charge, Mrs Anna Maria Cancellieri, how comes that a gangster, “Renatino” de Pedis, is entombed in the papal crypt of the Roman basilica of Sant’Apollinare, without the necessary permission of the same Ministry. The entombment was made in 1990, more than 20 years ago.
Just to clarify what we’re going to recount: nor Mr. Veltroni, nor Mrs. Cancellieri are directly involved in this story and back then they had no political charges or responsibilities.
The plot starts with 2 different stories that, all of a sudden, tangled up. The first one is the story of the Banda della Magliana, the scariest and most powerful criminal gang in the recent history of Rome, that we have already partially recounted in this blog (click here). This gang had its hands over Rome and was tied with influential persons of the political and ecclesiastical milieu. It reached the peak of its power during the 80ies and came to an end, at least as a gang, with the death of above mentioned boss “Renatino” de Pedis, who was shot dead on Via del Pellegrino, close to Campo dè Fiori, the 2nd of February 1990 around noon by a killer nicknamed “er cinghiale” – the wild boar in English. Soon after his death his body migrated from the cemetery of Rome, “Il Verano”, to the papal crypt of the beautiful Basilica of Sant’Apollinare, a few steps from Piazza Navona. The body of a dead gangster migrated from a cemetery to a church but we’re not in a horror movie nor was this accomplished by the holy spirit. The permission was granted by Cardinal Ugo Poletti, Cardinale Vicario of Rome at that time, in a way the n.2 of the ecclesiastical hierarchy within the city of Rome, just after the Pope himself. Generally, the solution of a mystery in mediocre murder stories resides either in monies either in sentiments. In this case it was a matter of monies as Mr Pietro Vergari, Rector of the Sant’Apollinare Basilica, candidly admitted in a letter: “This is to certify that Mr. Enrico (Renatino was his nickname) De Pedis, born in Rome, Trastevere, on 15/05/1954 and died on 2/2/1990, was a great benefactor of the poor who come to the church and actually helped so many good initiatives that were sponsored in recent times, both religious and social. He gave special contributions to help young people, giving particular attention to their Christian and human education.”
This is the official version. And it is already enough worrying: the top hierarchy of the Vatican grants to a gangster the privilege of being entombed in a basilica, which by the means of the Canonic laws should be reserved only to Popes, Cardinals and Bishops, because the same lost soul has given some cash which was used to help the poor. As ancient Romans used to say: “Pecunia non olet” (Money has no odor). For sure Mr. Poletti and Mr. Vergari –and others- didn’t mind the odor of blood of this money.
But besides the official version there is more, and we’ll come back to this later. It’s now time to start the second story, the one of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in central Rome when she was only 15 years old. She was a citizen of the Vatican State –there are no more than 800 in total- daughter of an employee of the same state. At first her family thought she had disappeared without constraints, by her own will as sometimes teen-agers that want to draw attention to them do, just to reappear a few days later. But things changed when her family received a call from a guy that named himself “Luigi” saying that he met her on Campo dè Fiori and gave some details that only a person that really stayed in touch with Emanuela could know: he said that, despite being short sighted, she didn’t want to wear glasses as she felt ashamed. A this point the police was informed, and the search for Emanuela started all over Rome, all over Italy, and even abroad. Posters with the face of the “missing girl” were stuck on every Roman wall. Witnesses confirmed that she had been seen entering into a big, green BMW just after 7.30 pm. The car was driven by a man of approximately 35 years old; his identikit picture was drawn by the police. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of calls were received from people saying that they had seen Emanuela, but none of them proved to be true. Other calls from people saying they had kidnapped Emanuela were also received: to be mentioned 16 calls from a person speaking Italian with an Anglo-Saxon accent, others from a person with a middle eastern accent that connected the disappearance of the girl with Ali Agca, the Turkish killer, member of the “Grey Wolfs” group, that shoot Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981. But finally none of those possible solutions of her disappearance proved to be true.
This story was mentioned in the top headlines of the Italian media for many years, but finally it went into a limbo after a game of one step forward and 2 steps back of the investigations, that went on for too long. It is only in 1997 that the information of the Gangster being entombed in a papal crypt became public, as a journalist of an Italian newspaper discovered it and wrote an article about it. And it is only in 2006 that the sad story of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi came across the unbelievable story of the “redemption” of a gangster’s lost soul granted by some top representatives of the Vatican state.
Sabrina Minardi, the femme fatale married to the famous football player of Rome’s second football team Lazio (first one is A. S. Roma) Bruno Giordano, was at that time the lover of the dandy gangster “Renatino”. He would go nuts for her. She would happily be spending the tons of cash he gave her. We’re speaking about the tons of cash that remained in his deep pockets after he fed the poor, of course, blessed by Mr. Ugo Poletti, nonetheless. In an interview given in 2006, a Sabrina Minardi devastated by the time passing by upon her vicious life, recounts that “Renatino” had personally killed Emanuela Orlandi after having kidnapped her in accordance with Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the American boss of the IOR at that time, the Vatican bank. She said that by the Janiculum Hill in Rome she personally assisted to the scene of Emanuela coming out from the big, green BMW of “Renatino” and entering a big, black Mercedes with a number plate of the Vatican State and with a man inside that “looked like a priest”. The BMW corresponded to the one that was seen by some witnesses close to Piazza Navona the evening that Emanuela disappeared. And the witnesses –among them a policeman- had seen Emanuela entering onto this car back then. The car was finally found in August 2008 and it was owned by Mr. Flavio Carboni, a scaring “entrepreneur” involved in many mysterious histories of the 80ies, the strange death of Roberto Calvi who was found hanged under the Black Friar’s bridge in London among them, and then was transferred to a member of the Banda della Magliana. This confirmed that the declarations of Sabrina could be true. It is worth mentioning that the identikit picture made by the police at the time of Emanuela’s disappearance came very close to the face of Renatino, who was already a fugitive at the time, but eventually nobody could notice this similarity back then.
In the interview she also said that Emanuela was kept as a prisoner in a Roman villa with an immense basement that would get to the Roman Hospital San Camillo. Also this declaration proved to be true in august 2008. The reason for the kidnapping, she said, was that Archbishop Marcinkus and “Renatino” wanted somehow to “blackmail” someone “above them”. In the interview she also added things that proved to be false. The publication of the interview prompted immediate protests from the Vatican, which, in the words of Father Federico Lombardi, a representative of the Vatican press office, said that in addition to the “lack of humanity and respect” for the Orlandi family, which brighten their pain, the outrageous allegations to Archbishop Marcinkus, long dead and unable to defend himself, were unacceptable. Just to complete the whole picture it is worth mentioning that Archbishop Marcinkus, born in Cicero Illinois, was heavily involved into the bankruptcy of the Banco Ambrosiano run by Roberto Calvi, and that for this reason he stepped aside as head of Vatican bank, which had to pay over 145 million Pounds in a settlement with creditors. It is also worth mentioning that the Vatican was very prompt to protest against the allegations made by Sabrina Minardi but never found himself ready to clarify why the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Ugo Poletti, immediately granted the permission to entomb a gangster into a basilica of the Vatican State and why the Vatican state easily accepted loads of money from De Pedis. Last but not least: Emanuela Orlandi was attending music classes in a school on Piazza Sant’Apollinare, just in front of the Basilica. Just a coincidence?
The investigations are still carried on but there is little chance that after such a long time they will come to an end that will clarify, once and for all, those mysteries. In July 2011 Antonio Mancini, a former member of the Magliana’s gang, said in an interview that it is true that Emanuela Orlandi was kidnapped because the Gang wanted to obtain the restitution of the millions of $$$$$ they had invested into the IOR Vatican bank through the Banco Ambrosiano.
To this never ending saga, as seen at the beginning, Mr Uolter Veltroni, added a new chapter. He said that in fact the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare is not recognized as a part of the Vatican territory and therefore to move a body from a cemetery being part of the City of Rome a special permission from the Interior Ministry of Italy of that time was necessary. Being proven that the migration of this body was not done by the immense power of the Holy Spirit, he therefore officially asked why this body was moved without the permission being granted. Mrs Cancellieri responded that in fact the permission from the Interior Ministry was never released, but a permission from the Municipality of Rome, with Mr Franco Carraro being the Mayor at that time, was granted, instead.
Now, to conclude, we ask a few questions that, we already know, will never be responded. To the attention of Mr Veltroni: why, if you’re so concerned with this permission, you never raised the question when you were in charge as the Mayor of Rome? Why, when you were the Mayor of Rome, you never investigated the permission granted by your predecessor in the same institution you were running?
© Rome City Apartments – Copywright 2012