Sleeping Beauty, The Mummy That Blinks: Rosalia Lombardo

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In this passage, we are introduced to Rosalia Lombardo, a young girl who died from pneumonia in 1920 due to the Spanish flu. Her father was devastated by her death and approached Alfred Salafia, a skilled embalmer and taxidermist, to preserve her body as best as possible.

Rosalia’s hair was still visible, with golden cheeks.

Salafia performed an exceptional operation on Rosalia’s body that has allowed her to remain preserved nearly a century after her death. She is now resting in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy, where she is known as “the sleeping beauty.” Despite being perfectly preserved, visitors come from all over the world to see Rosalia because they believe she blinks her eyes.

Rosalia’s eyes slowly opening a few cm, and shutting again throughout the day.

There are different theories about why this blinking effect could be possible. Some people think it’s due to changes in temperature inside the crypt that cause her eyelids to contract and produce a blinking effect. Others believe it could be an optical illusion caused by the light from the window at different times during the day.

Salafia used a unique embalming process on Rosalia’s body, which involved making a small puncture in the body and injecting a mixture of formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin. Each ingredient in this concoction had a specific job. The formalin killed all the bacteria, the glycerin ensured that her body didn’t desiccate, and the salicylic acid wiped out any fungi in the flesh. The zinc salts gave Rosalia’s body rigidity and prevented her cheeks and nasal cavities from caving in. This could be the key to why the blinking effect is happening.

The coffin inside the crypt where Rosalia rests.

Rosalia Lombardo is one of eight thousand mummies in the Capuchin Catacombs of Sicily, and she was one of the last corpses to be admitted to the catacombs. She is now considered one of the most well-known mummies in the world.

Shaun Zietsman

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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