Built in a private area next to St. Peter’s Basilica and just off of St. Peter’s Square, the Teutonic Cemetery is the only cemetery in the Vatican. While there is an important necropolis under the church which contains the bones of St. Peter, the only place to be buried with the borders of the Vatican these days is in the small, quiet Teutonic Cemetery.
The cemetery is reserved for members of the Confraternity of Our Lady of the German Cemetery. It is the final resting place of people who came from Austria, Südtirol, German Switzerland, Lichtenstein, German speaking Belgian, Flemish and Dutch, but ultimately lived and died in Rome.
The Confraternity was established after the Holy Year 1450 when many German pilgrims visited Rome. At the time, the cemetery was in total disrepair, and so the group was established to maintain it and now have the right to be buried there.
The association of the cemetery with German pilgrims likely dates back to 799 when Pope Leo IV gifted the small piece of land to Charlemagne to establish a school or hospice. There is a plaque on the outer wall which still credits Charlemagne for founding the burial place. The cemetery became necessary because so many pilgrims were arriving to visit the tomb of Saint Peter, but tragically passed away in Rome if they became sick on their long journey from Germany. In this way, they were given the chance to rest in peace just steps from the site of their pilgrimage.
Since the 15th century, approximately 1400 people have been buried in the cemetery.
The cemetery became the focus of a Vatican scandal in 2019, when it was revealed that the remains of Emanuela Orlandi might be entombed there.
Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of a Vatican employee when she disappeared in the center of Rome on 22 June 1983.
A judge ordered two tombs to be opened at the request of the Orlandi family. However, it was determined that the fragments inside date back at least 100 years.
The cemetery is open from 7 am to 12 pm daily.
Campo Santo Teutonico
Via della Sagrestia, 17
Free to visit.