Tests carried out on the tomb indicated that it has been opened at least once in the past, according to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which broke the story this week.
“Some people knew there was a chance Emanuela Orlandi’s body had been hidden in the German cemetery,” Laura Sgrò, the family’s lawyer, wrote in a letter to the Vatican.
She said that someone had been regularly leaving flowers on the burial spot “for some years”.
The Vatican said it was actively considering the request.
“I can confirm that the letter from Emanuela Orlandi’s family has been received by Cardinal Pietro Parolin,” said Alessandro Gisotti, Vatican spokesman, referring to the Secretary of State. The family’s request to have the tomb reopened “will be studied”, he said.
The existence of the tip-off, and the family’s request to the Vatican, came as Pope Francis announced that he will open up archives relating to the controversial wartime papacy of Pius XII, who has been accused of failing to speak out against the persecution of the Jews and Hitler’s Final Solution.
“Seeing as the Pope has decided to open the Vatican archives for the pontificate of Pius XII in 2020, we make an appeal to the pontiff to give us access to the dossier that regards the investigation into the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi,” said Ms Sgrò, the family’s lawyer. “Francis must clarify this deeply shadowy story as well.”