This episode contains discussions of violence, self-harm and suicide, which some listeners may find upsetting, extreme caution is advised for listeners under 13. In the year three 12 seei Emperor Constantine faced off against his brother in law, Maxentius, for control of the Roman Empire, their armies came to a head at the Battle of M.V. and Bridge, a key access point over the Tiber River and into Rome. But just before the battle, legend holds that Constantine had a vision that changed not only the course of the war, but also Western civilization.
Looking up to the sun, he and his soldiers saw a huge cross of light and below the miraculous image were the Greek words for the Latin phrase. In this sign, you will conquer that very same night. Constantine had a dream in which Christ himself told him to use the sign of the cross against his enemies.
Constantine took the message to heart that morning. He had crosses painted on his soldiers shields. When they won the battle, he took it as proof of the power of the Christian God.
He soon converted from paganism to Christianity, and the next year he signed the edict of Milan, which legalized the religion throughout the Roman Empire.
Up to that point, Christianity had been illegal. A small monotheistic sect in an empire dominated by belief in the gods of the Roman pantheon, viciously persecuted for their beliefs, Christians had literally been driven underground to worship in catacombs, in caves.
But Constantine support allowed them to step out into the light and worship openly with the approval of the Roman emperor.
Christianity went on to become one of the most dominant religions in the world. This paved the way for the creation of one of the most secretive organizations in human history, the Vatican.
Welcome to Conspiracy Theories, a podcast original, I'm Carter Roy and I'm Molly Brandenberg, and neither of us are conspiracy theorists, but we are open minded, skeptical and curious.
Don't get us wrong. Sometimes the official version is the truth, but sometimes it's not.
Normally we take things story by story, conspiracy by a conspiracy. But in these next four episodes, we'll be doing something a little differently. We're going to explore the secrets of the Vatican, one of the oldest and most influential organizations in the world and one of the most mysterious in this episode.
We're going to take an in-depth look at the history of the Vatican and how it came to be what it is today. We'll also look into a few scandals that have rocked the church and whether there was even more going on than the church would admit.
Next time, we'll dig specifically into the Vatican's secret archive, said to be home to some of the most confidential mind bending information in the history of the world. Coming up, the Vatican rises to power, spilling blood along the way. This episode is brought to you by Faneuil's sportsbook, don't just watch college basketball, get in the action and shoot your shot with the fan to a sports book app. There's more ways to play the bracket all tournament long.
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Quarter on drizzly dotcom. Never compromise. Drink responsibly. Wild Turkey, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey fifty point five percent. Alcohol volume one and one proof copy. Right. Twenty twenty one. Campari America. New York. New York. With its intricate or inspiring architecture, Vatican City has become a shrine to the power of the Catholic Church. Landmarks like St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel make it a top tourist destination for some five million guests per year.
The Vatican is perhaps best known as the residence of His Holiness the pope. But the thousand room Vatican Palace is also home to some administrative offices of the government of the Catholic Church, which is known as the Holy See, the smallest sovereign state in the world.
The Vatican has its own bank and coins, newspaper, pharmacy, post office and stamps, even TV and radio stations.
These serve service a tiny population of about 800 people who live within Vatican City and the number of official citizens of the Vatican is even smaller, hovering around 450.
There's a good reason for the low numbers. You can only become a citizen of the Vatican if you work within its walls.
If you lose your job, you lose your citizenship. The exclusive ranks of Vatican employees include the members of the Swiss Guard and Elite Armed Force, which has protected the pope since 15 06. They're instantly recognizable for their red, yellow and blue striped Renaissance era uniforms, complete with a seven foot tall medieval halberd.
The Vatican's steady stream of tourists brings in millions of dollars in revenue, all in addition to donations from the world's faithful, which continue to pour in. As of 2020, the Vatican announced net assets totaling four billion euros, or four point eight billion dollars. But all that wealth and power didn't come easily. Beneath all the glitter of the Vatican, the Catholic Church's history is stained with blood.
From Christianity's origins in the first century, its followers were viciously persecuted as heathens for practicing their monotheistic religion.
Many Christians suffered brutal deaths for their beliefs, according to some historians. They were covered in hot wax, impaled on sharp poles and even set on fire during the reign of the sadistic Emperor Nero. But all of that changed around 300 years later when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity with the backing of the Roman Empire. Christianity was poised to become a major institution.
And Constantine was more than just a believer. He was an active benefactor of the fledgling religion. The emperor funded churches, administrative buildings and most importantly, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This was the beginning of the Vatican as we know it today.
At the time, the basilica wasn't located in the most prime Roman real estate, though the Vatican has since become synonymous with opulence, power and wealth. The word Vatican was used to refer to the swampy land to the west of the Tiber River in Rome.
Generally speaking, the east side of the Tiber was the place to be. All of the major landmarks were on that side of the river, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman forum and the Emperor's Palace.
The less desirable West Side was damp and marshy, but that was the site where Saint Peter the Apostle and first pope was said to have been buried, and that significance was enough for Constantine to decide to put the basilica there.
Over the following centuries, Christianity grew into a dominant force. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Vatican kept expanding its control over large swaths of Italy.
But early pope set their sights on even bigger dominions, so they forged shrewd alliances all over Europe.
In the year 800 Pope Leo, the third crowned the mighty Frankish king Charlemagne, the first head of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne proved to be an effective ally as he conquered huge tracts of land and converted his new subjects to Christianity, sometimes on pain of death.
In just a few hundred years, Christians had gone from being persecuted for their beliefs to killing those who didn't convert.
By the time Charlemagne died 14 years later, he'd helped to expand the reaches of the Christian empire across most of Europe. But being so big also put a target on the early church's back.
Decades after Charlemagne's passing, St. Peter's Basilica was attacked by Islamic pirates to protect the holy structure. Pope Leo, the fourth, ordered a 40 foot wall to be built around the Vatican.
But even though church headquarters were now protected, the rest of the empire was still vulnerable.
A century and a half later, in Tenno nine seei Islamic forces attacked once again, this time at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
This sparked decades of anger that was further inflamed when the Turks threatened to invade the Byzantine Empire in ten ninety five. In response, Pope Urban the second gave a fiery speech calling on Christians to take up arms and march to the Holy Land to deliver a counterstrike that was enough motivation to send a force of soldiers tens of thousands strong to the gates of Jerusalem.
They led a bloody siege and ultimately retook control of the city a few years later, in 10 99.
See, over the next 200 years, there were eight more crusades to the Holy Land. None were as successful as the first, but they solidified the church as a strong military force. But after centuries of trying to protect the Vatican from Islamic foes, the church had to battle a new adversary in its own backyard.
Heretics. In twelve thirty one, Pope Gregory the nine four signed a decree calling for anyone who confessed to heresy to be imprisoned for life and any opponents who refused to come clean were sentenced to die. This edict kicked off several centuries of harsh punishment known as the Inquisition.
This reign of terror led to some of the darkest days in the history of the Catholic Church. Religious officials were empowered to go from town to town, inviting heretics to come forward and confess.
After a few weeks, church authorities welcomed parishioners to inform on people they knew friends, neighbors and family members.
Once indicted, citizens had virtually no rights. They couldn't face their accuser. And church officials had the final say in who is guilty of heresy. In many cases, innocent people were interrogated and tortured until they confess to crimes that they didn't commit.
But as hard as they tried, the church couldn't silence their opponents forever. In 17, German priest Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses calling out corruption within the leadership of the Catholic Church. His attacks on the church helped kick start the Protestant Reformation, leading to a split in Christianity in the midst of the Reformation.
It was more important than ever for the Vatican to show its strength. The completion of the new basilica and the early sixteen hundreds was a step toward this goal.
The sheer size of the structure was enough to make a statement with a central dome reaching a mind boggling 448 feet tall and enough space to hold 20000 worshipers. St. Peter's was the largest church in the world for over 300 years.
But even with such a massive monument at the heart of the church, the Vatican's reach was shrinking. Over the next few centuries, Protestantism spread or has erupted across Europe, the empire lost territory. And finally, at the turn of the 19th century, Napoleon invaded Vatican City, deposed the pope and dissolved the Holy Roman Empire.
Roughly 50 years later, the Italian government laid claim to the vast area surrounding the Vatican, known as the papal states. After a 60 year long standoff between the Vatican and Italy, an agreement was finally reached with the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
The treaty called for the Vatican to formally hand over control of the papal states. The once all powerful church would shrink to only 100 acres of territory encompassed by a tiny two mile border.
In exchange, the church was compensated at a cool 92 million dollars for their loss, which would amount to about one point four billion dollars.
Today, the cash was nothing to sneeze at, but perhaps the most important part of the treaty was that the Vatican secured its status as a sovereign state. This meant they could govern themselves independently, were exempt from certain taxes and more importantly, were allowed to keep all kinds of state secrets from the world.
The Lateran Treaty made the Vatican the smallest country in the world, but it was far from the least powerful. Over the 20th century, the Vatican would play a crucial role on the world stage. Coming up, the Vatican's financial schemes and secret connections with the Nazi party.
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Now back to the story. After centuries of expansion and being an empire, the Vatican was reduced to a 100 acres sovereign nation with the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
This arrangement put the pope in a tricky position as both a religious and political leader in the fraught period of the 1930s. He had to contend with the rise of fascism and anti-Semitism and the questionable way the church navigated. The political landscape led to dark theories about its role in some of the worst horrors of the 20th century. The tension started with Pope Pius the 11th, who was head of the Catholic Church between 1922 and 1939 while Hitler rose to power in Germany four years, Pius his policy was to stay silent with regard to fascism.
But as it became increasingly clear that the Third Reich was violating the rights of its Jewish citizens. It seems that the pope had a crisis of conscience. In February of 1939, just seven months before Hitler invaded Poland, Pius penned a speech condemning the dangers of fascism and anti-Semitism. But just hours before the pope was set to deliver his address, he was found dead in his apartments.
The official cause of death was given as heart failure, but the timing of the pontiff's demise led some to believe there was something more nefarious at play.
Even more suspicious. The speech that Pope Pius was set to deliver mysteriously went missing, never to see the light of day.
The rumors were fueled by a revelation from a well-known French cardinal. Eugene Truong is said to have recorded in his diary that on the day Pius died, the pope had been given an injection by the Vatican's chief physician, Dr. Francesco Petoskey. Pataki had a rather close association to Italy's fascist prime minister. His daughter was Mussolini's mistress. Rumors circulated that the doctors needle might not have contained medicine for the pope's ailing heart. Perhaps it was poisoned. Part of a conspiracy to murder the pope before he could speak out against fascism.
With Pius the 11th dead, presumably from heart failure, all eyes looked to his successor, Pius the 12th due to some political maneuvering in his past, there was reason to suspect he had pro Nazi leanings before he became Pope Pius the 12th, he was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, secretary of state for the Vatican.
And in this capacity, he made some alarming concessions to Germany's Nazi party in 1933.
The future Pius the 12th helped persuade the German Catholic Center party to essentially disband. Up to that point, the party had been staunchly opposed to Hitler's Nazi party acting as a bloc in his power. So Cardinal Pacelli is questionable. Bit of diplomacy helped clear the way for Hitler to take full control of the German government. The world watched in shock as Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939.
International leaders spoke out against the aggression with England and France declaring war on Germany within days. But Pius the 12th stayed mum.
His silence spoke volumes, many German Catholics joined the Nazi party thinking that the pope was a supporter, his failure to speak out against the Third Reich was even more distressing after news broke of the Nazi's final solution to exterminate the Jewish people.
Perhaps Pius was simply trying to honor his promise of neutrality in the war as the Vatican's head of state. Or perhaps there were darker reasons for his silence.
John Cornwell's book, Hitler's Pope, suggests that Pius the 12th turned a blind eye to the horrors of the Nazi party because he hoped Hitler's reign would help stop the tide of Soviet communism.
When Pius finally broke his years long silence on the topic. It was only with veiled comments in his 1942 Christmas address, he avoided specific mentions of the words Jew or Nazi.
Instead, he spoke in watered down generalities about people slated for execution, quote, by reason of their nationality or race.
Naturally, the Vatican denies that pious actions or lack thereof contributed to the slaughter of innocents. But for decades after the fact, the church refused to allow scholars to access Vatican documents from 1939 to 1958, which might have shed some light on piousness actions and mindset during the time.
It wasn't until March 2020 that the Vatican finally made the pertinent files available. Scholars are queuing up to get into the archives and search for answers to the questions that have been swirling for decades.
But the Vatican's entanglements with the Nazi party didn't end with World War Two, the Holy See played a key role in helping Nazi war criminals evade capture after World War Two in particular.
This effort was led by a bishop named Alois, who Dall Huttle was a preeminent member of the clergy until he ran afoul of church leadership. He made the mistake of explicitly endorsing Hitler in his book, The Foundations of Nazi Socialism. For a time, Huttle was an outcast in the church administration. But lucky for him, history has a way of forgetting.
After World War Two, the Vatican selected a representative to provide religious assistance to German Catholic refugees in Rome. The church made a surprising choice.
Bishop Huttle, Huddle's job was to provide identification papers as well as visas and travel passes to German refugees. Except Huttle decided to expand the scope of the aid from German Catholics to Nazis. Word quickly spread to war criminals in hiding at a sympathetic bishop could help them escape. Hutto's so-called rat line allegedly aided in the escape of the infamous Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the final solution, as well as several other prominent Nazi officers.
But the Vatican used its status as an independent state to do more than harbour war criminals by the 1940s, the Vatican had amassed quite the fortune.
Its financial adviser, Bernardino Nagara, had multiplied the church's wealth into a staggering one billion dollars, which would be worth almost 16 billion dollars today.
To invest these funds, Ghara established a private financial institution called the Instituto Pallay Oprey de Religion, or Ioana. This was a very strategic move because in the wartime era, allied forces had introduced a slew of restrictions on foreign bank accounts.
Since the Ioana was based in the Vatican, a sovereign state, it was able to withhold sensitive information from regulatory agencies. And over the decades, the Vatican Bank secrecy provided cover for shady business dealings. In the late 1970s, a scandalous affair involving the church's finances made headlines, a group of monks in Philadelphia were caught with their hands in the offertory, stealing a total of 20 million dollars.
The monks took funds that had been collected for charity and instead spent it on luxury cars, personal expenses and even mistresses, embarrassed to say the least.
The Vatican ended up floating the monks more than five million dollars through the IOA to pay back their creditors. Thanks to the Vatican's intervention, the monks never faced criminal charges for their misconduct. But perhaps the most salacious tale about the Vatican Bank concerns its ties with another Italian financial institution, Banco Ambrosiano. In the 70s, the Ayoade made a significant investment in Ambrosiano, which was run by a balding, moustached financial guru named Roberto Calvi.
Over the next decade, Calvi worked so closely with the Vatican he earned the nickname God's Banker.
Calvi used his connection with the Vatican's bank to shift illicit funds around the world in order to evade financial regulators. Once the money passed inspection, Calvi would withdraw it. But the Vatican kept a cut for their trouble.
In 1980, Calvi leveraged his cozy relationship with the Vatican to pull off another massive scheme he loaned between one point two and one point five billion dollars to a slew of Panamanian shell companies to make it look like these loans were above board.
The Vatican provided letters of comfort, implying that the church had a financial interest in the sham companies.
Strangely, this turned out to be true. After an investigation, authorities came to the conclusion that many of the Panamanian companies were owned by Calvi himself, with the Vatican keeping a controlling interest in them.
So Calvi was effectively loaning money to himself, which he then used to buy shares in Banco Ambrosiano, among other companies.
With this kind of rampant double dealing, perhaps. It's no surprise that Ambrosiano eventually went belly up in a huge scandal. The Vatican was implicated in the mess, too, but they ended up paying 244 million dollars in settlements to avoid admitting to any wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, Calvey didn't fare so well after facing steep criminal charges. He was found dead, hanging from a bridge.
Initially, all signs pointed to suicide, but several inconsistencies suggested a more sinister explanation, some began to suspect that God's banker had been murdered and that the hit had been ordered by the Vatican. Coming up, the Vatican's reputation is marred by high profile murders.
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Sportsbook Doug Faneuil dot com four terms and restrictions. Gambling problem call one 800 gambler. Now back to the story. In 1982, the Banco Ambrosiano imploded amidst criminal charges and up to one point five billion dollars in debt. So when Ambrosiano Chairman Roberto Calvi was found dead hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, it was assumed he had taken his own life in disgrace. A closer examination of the facts pointed to darker possibilities. Seven years after Carvey's death, his son Carlo hired a team of private detectives to investigate what happened.
The team painstakingly reconstructed the yellow scaffolding. Calvey was found hanging from then they had a stand in roughly Carvey's height and weight climbed down as he would have had to do to hang himself.
That involved clambering over a small wall and down a 12 foot ladder, then sliding down to a thin scaffolding pole, putting his neck in a noose and jumping all in the pre morning darkness. This would have been a tall order for Kavi, who was overweight and suffered from vertigo. The private detectives even had their stand in where the same kind of shoes that Calvey was discovered in and in every one of their reconstructions. The shoes ended up with microscopic traces of yellow paint from the scaffolding.
But Carvey's shoes didn't have any of these traces suggesting that he hadn't climbed down to his death on his own. In 1998, Caylee's body was exhumed, which only led to more disturbing revelations.
Specifically, the injuries to his neck were inconsistent with a death from hanging.
The London police reopened the case this time considering the possibility that Kavi had been murdered 20 years after his death. Calvin's official cause of death was changed from suicide to homicide.
It seemed the private detectives were right in their blunt conclusion, quote, Someone else had to have tied him to the scaffolding and killed him.
But if Roberto Calvi had been murdered, the question remained, who killed God's banker?
The Freemasons quickly emerged as suspects. Just before his death, Calvi had been outed as a member of an Italian Masonic lodge called Propaganda Douai. This elite group of politicians and businessmen had been charged with subverting Italy's government.
However, at one point, Calvi is rumored to have denied his membership in the group. Some suspected that his fellow members killed him over the betrayal.
The symbolism was hard to ignore. Members of propaganda. Douai referred to themselves as Frattini's or Blackfriars. Calvey had been found hanging from London's famous Blackfriars Bridge.
It's quite the coincidence, but many think it's unlikely that the secret group would kill one of its own in such a public way. However, they were far from the only suspects. It was also no secret that Kaldi had close ties with the Vatican Bank and rumors circulated that the church might have had something to do with his death. Less than two weeks before his death and facing the impending collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, Calvey made a plea directly to Pope John Paul, the second in a letter, he begged for a chance to explain his situation and highlighted mistakes made by the chairman of the Vatican Bank.
He also alluded that certain parties had approached him for information on the church's business dealings. To the pope, this might have had a whiff of blackmail, but Calvi made sure to clarify, he wrote, I won't be blackmailed and I won't blackmail in return. I have always been loyal, even when it's most dangerous.
Calvi was clearly playing with fire, his veiled threat to open the books on the church's dealings might have been enough to spur the Vatican to unholy action.
Perhaps the Vatican took Calvin out of the equation to ensure he could never spill their secrets, but ultimately there doesn't seem to be enough evidence to tie the Holy See to a murder so far from Vatican City.
But a murder within the Vatican is a different story. Calvi wasn't the only suspicious death to be tied to a church scandal. One of the most baffling and shameful incidents to happen within the walls of Vatican City took place on May 4th, 1998.
That afternoon, 43 year old Eloise Esterman was promoted to commander of the Swiss Guard, this was just one more feather in the plumed helmet of a distinguished soldier.
Esterman had already earned high esteem by personally defending Pope John Paul, the second during an attempted assassination in 1981.
Around nine o'clock in the evening, Esterman was in his Vatican City apartment with his wife of 15 years, Gladis Masr.
Romero Hesterman was on the phone with a priest friend, perhaps sharing the good news, allegedly.
That's when a fellow guardsman, 23 year old Cedric Tourny, entered the apartment. In contrast to Esterman, stellar record, Tourny was known to be a bit of a partier. He'd been formally cited five times for staying out late, usually drinking.
Reportedly soon after Tourny entered Osterman's apartment, multiple gunshots rang out. All three people, Tourny Esterman and his wife, were soon found dead by a neighbor. The chief Vatican press officer, Joaquín Navarro Valls, immediately launched into damage control.
Navarro Valls was on the scene within hours and immediately sealed the Esterman apartment. Not even the Italian police were allowed to enter. Instead, Navarro Valls quickly established his own theory for the murders that Tourny had killed Hesterman and his wife in a fit of madness.
This was a bold claim coming from a man who had never even met Tourny.
With Navarro Valls theory in place, the Vatican conducted a brief internal investigation. But it's unclear how much the church really wanted to get to the bottom of the matter. They didn't even bother to interview other members of the Swiss Guard for information.
The Vatican did make much of the fact that there was cannabis found in Tawny's system, which was put forth to explain his erratic behavior.
However, this explanation didn't exactly square with the fact that Tourny allegedly left a suicide note or his actions premeditated or the result of a fit of madness.
After nine months of internal inquiry, the official conclusion was handed down. Tourny had allegedly killed Esterman and his wife because he had been passed over for the Benomar Rinty medal, which was generally awarded after serving three years in the guard.
However, many alternative theories arose to explain the explosive killings. One theory that gained significant traction was the tourny and Esterman had been involved in a homosexual romance in that version of events, Esterman broke things off following his promotion, and Tawney killed him and his wife in a fit of jealous rage.
It's certainly understandable why the Vatican might want to direct the media away from this explanation, given the church's views against homosexuality. But soon, and even darker theory rose to the surface.
The murders were tied to a secretive Catholic sect called Opus de Opus Day, which is Latin for Work of God is a Catholic institution founded in 1920. Eight decades later, Pope John Paul the second establish the group as the only personal premature of the Vatican. This meant that Opus Dei and its members are essentially only answerable to the Pope and to God, not to any local bishops.
By all appearances, this special treatment seemed to indicate a closeness between Opus Day and the Holy See. And this apparent coziness is all the more intriguing in light of some of the SEC's more controversial practices.
The group's recruitment process is fraught with secrecy and pressure tactics. Some new members were forbidden from discussing Opus Day with their families or cut off from communicating with their loved ones entirely.
And once they're in the group, things get more intense. Some 25 to 30 percent of Opus Day members take strict vows of celibacy and practice corporal mortification. This is the idea of hurting one's body in order to share in the suffering of Christ.
Some Opus Dei members achieve this by wearing a Selous, a tight barb metal chain around the upper thigh on a daily basis.
Another method is to use a small whip on one's own back and shoulders.
Naturally, these unorthodox practices raised eyebrows, so it's understandable that the group might go to great lengths to keep their inner workings under the radar.
According to speculation, Esterman was a prominent member of Opus Day and the younger Swiss Guard tourny was secretly investigating the group's reach when Esterman found out that his underling was spying on him. He killed Tourny before murdering his wife and finally himself.
It's unclear if Esterman was actually a member of Opus Day, but if news broke that the shadowy group had high ranking members in the Swiss Guard charged with defending the pope, it would have been a massive scandal.
So if Opus Day was somehow involved in the Swiss Guard murders, that might explain why the Vatican press officer was so eager to shift the investigation in a different direction.
That and the fact that Navarro Valls himself was also a member of Opus Day. Interestingly, despite the church's historically harsh views against suicide, Vatican officials granted tourny full funeral rites. Perhaps they knew that Tournay hadn't actually taken his own life.
If that was the case, they weren't alone. Tawny's family also had their doubts.
His mother petitioned the Holy See for years to open up a new investigation when her efforts were blocked. She took matters into her own hands by pursuing justice in a Swiss court of law.
Several discrepancies in Tawny's suicide note made his mother suspicious that something nefarious was afoot.
For one thing, he dated the message differently than he normally did.
Also, the note used his mother's married name when Tourny always referred to her by her maiden name. And finally, the letter referred to his sister as Melinda, when he always called her by the nickname Dada. Taken together, these deviations seem to suggest that the note was fake, and the results of an independent autopsy reportedly cast even more doubt on the idea that Tourny had taken his own life.
The autopsy found that Tahnee was killed by a seven millimeter bullet. This didn't add up because his gun shot nine point four millimeter rounds and alarmingly, his front teeth had been broken as if someone else had forced the gun into his mouth. Tawny's lungs also had traces of blood and saliva, which indicated powerful blows to his head before he died, according to Tawny's mother.
The autopsy findings suggested that her son was drugged, shot, then positioned it in Esterman flat post-mortem. All of this to make it seem as if he'd killed Hesterman and his wife before turning the gun on himself. With all the different conspiracy theories afoot, it's hard to know which, if any, comes closest to the truth. Gay Love Affair Gone Wrong Opus Day Double Agent found out international intrigue in the highest echelon of the pope's personal guard.
It could be that the only people who will ever know what happened were killed on that fateful night in May 1998.
The Vatican, for their part, reportedly never responded to the results of Tawny's autopsy. Perhaps officials thought the matter wasn't worth addressing. Or maybe they had something to hide.
If the Vatican had a hand in staging the Swiss Guard murders, it wouldn't be the first time the Holy See decided to keep a dark secret under wraps. In fact, the Vatican has a whole library full of hidden information and artifacts, appropriately called the Vatican's Secret Archives for an exclusive, mysterious, mystical institution that's been around for millennia. There's probably at least a few skeletons in that closet. Thanks for tuning into conspiracy theories for more information on the dark history of the Vatican, amongst the many sources we used, we found Secrets of the Vatican by Cyrus Sharrod and Dark Mysteries of the Vatican by Paul Jeffers.
Helpful to our research. We'll be back next time with our second episode on the Vatican. Diving deep into the stacks of their secret archives, you can find all episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify.
Until then, remember, the truth isn't always the best story, and the official story isn't always the truth.
Conspiracy Theories is a Spotify original from podcast, it's executive produced by Max Cuddler Sound Design by Trent Williamson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Travis Clark. This episode of Conspiracy Theories was written by Nancy O'Callaghan's with writing assistance by Adam DeSilva and Kate Gallagher, fact checking by Annibale and research by Bradley Klein. Conspiracy theory stars Molly Brandenberg and Carter Roy.