St. Peter’s Church behind Vatican Square, actually an oval. (Incredibly, early one morning in the early 1970’s, I was the only person in that ‘Square,’ where I was taking pictures.)
(An aside: Who knew there is an hotel within the walls of Vatican City, a 110-acre city-state (pop. 842 in 2014) smack dab in the middle of Rome?
(Casa Santa Marta happens to be, as well, the home of the pope, the residence of 40 or so priests and bishops who work in the Vatican. This large structure is considered to be an hotel because it is where Vatican visitors — bishops and other dignitaries from around the world — are housed. They enjoy, as you might expect, full hotel services throughout their time there.)
Mariam Wuolou, a 34-year-old receptionist at the Domus Santa Marta, a small hotel within the walls of Vatican City, was seven months pregnant when she was found dead, in an advanced state of decomposition, a few days ago.
Well known to Pope Francis, who is said to have seen and greeted her every morning and evening when she gave him his key and personal messages, Wuolou was found in her apartment in a suburb of Rome by her brother, who told authorities she hadn’t been answering her phone. She’d been on medical leave from her job for several weeks.
The Pope is said to have been distressed at news of her demise.
A native of Eritrea, Wuolou was married to an Italian, but it doesn’t appear she was (possibly ever!) living with him. There’s now speculation if hers was an arranged, marriage-of-convenience, to provide her Italian citizenship and, thus, the right to emigrate and reside in Italy.
(One must pass through Italy – from the airport, a train station or by road – to reach Vatican City, which is considered to be a self-contained entity beyond Italian law and jurisdiction.)
The Daily Beast reported today (2/23) that the cause of Wuolou’s death remains a mystery, despite extensive searches of her apartment and personal effects by investigators.
She was found fully clothed, and there was no indication she’d been physically harmed in any way. And though her medical records showed she was diabetic, a condition that can be harmful and even fatal during pregnancy, it isn’t clear if an Insulin error caused or contributed to her death. Police are said to doubt her death was Insulin-related.
The Vatican’s concern about this matter is so strong that authorities there – the ‘home’ of the Catholic church – have called for a complete autopsy and a criminal investigation, according to the Rome-based newspaper Il Messaggero. Ilmessagaggeo.it, the paper’s website, also noted that a magistrate ordered a DNA test of Wuolou’s unborn infant.