Holy See
Father Gratien Alabi was being held by detectives in Rome before being transferred to prison in Arezzo Reuters

Italian police have charged a catholic priest with the murder of a Tuscan housewife who went missing last year.

Father Gratien Alabi was held in Rome by detectives investigating the disappearance of Guerrina Piscaglia, 50, who vanished from the village of Cà Raffaello, near Arezzo on 1 May 2014.

The married mother-of-one left her house for a walk on International Labour Day, a public holiday in Italy, never to return.

The 45-year-old clergyman was already a suspect in the case although he was previously facing charges of aiding and abetting a kidnapping or murder and banned from leaving Italy, pending an investigation. He has now been charged with murdering the woman and disposing of the body.

Piscaglia was a parishioner at the local church run by Alabi but detectives have long suspected there was more to their relationship for the two had exchanged a high volume of text messages and phone calls, including on the day of her disappearance, Italian media reported.

During the investigation it emerged the priest had photos of nuns in lewd poses on his computer, which he claimed were sent to him by the religious women with whom he entertained a friendly online correspondence.

Alabi has been transferred from Rome to a jail in Arezzo, where he is to be questioned by prosecutors. He is the only suspect in the case.