Rosalia Lombardo was an Italian who was born on the 13th of December 1918 and died on the 6th of December, 1920. She died of pneumonia which resulted from the Spanish flu. Rosalia Lamborda is said to have become something larger than life in death.
While heartbroken and still seriously grieving Rosalia’s death a week later, her dad, Mario Lombardo, asked for her body to be preserved for eternity by Alfred Salafia who was an embalmer. This was so that they could go visit the body whenever they wanted to.
The Capuchin catacombs of Palermo in Sicily were ideal for storing mummified bodies because of their favorable clime for such practice.
Full Name: Rosalia Lombardo
Other Names: Sleeping Beauty of the Capuchin Catacombs, the Girl in the Glass Coffin, Worlds Most Beautiful Mummy, Best Preserved Mummy in the world.
Age: 2 years old
Preserved For: 102 years
Known For: Being in an especially well-preserved state in her tomb in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo.
Parents: Mario Lombardo (Dad and military officer) and Maria Di Cara
10 Mysterious Facts about Rosalia Lombardo
1. Rosalia Lombardo’s Two Years On Earth
She was a young child who was born frail and weak and during the Spanish Flu pandemic. She endured so much pain and sickness throughout her short life. She eventually died of pneumonia presumably due to the Spanish flu.
It is speculated that her dad was a wealthy nobleman who was an officer in the Italian military and so could afford to give her body eternity after her demise.
2. The Cause Of Her Death
Rosalia Lombardo died of pneumonia, and this is presumably owed to the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 which is also known as the ‘1918 influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus which lasted from February 1918 to April 1920 and infected 500 million people.
As a result of this, the pneumonic infiltrates in the right middle lobe of the lung are still evidently visible in the computer tomogram.
3. Rosalia’s Organs Are Still Very Intact.
After her death, X-rays of Rosalia’s body show that all her organs are still very much intact and remarkably so. This is owed to the fact that Alfredo Salafia’s embalming skills and techniques were top-notch.
Rosalia Lombardo’s body is still very much well preserved in the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo.
4. How Was Rosalia’s Body Preserved?
In 2009, the curator of Capuchin catacombs, Dario Piombino-Mascali discovered a handwritten manuscript written by Alfredo Salafia where he listed all the secret ingredients and the procedure he used to preserve the body of Rosalia.
He tracked down the living relatives of Alfredo Salafia and found the documents belonging to Alfredo in their possession.
It is said that through the femoral artery in her body, she was injected by a single-point injection with; one part glycerin, one part formalin saturated with zinc sulfate and zinc chloride, and one part of an alcohol solution saturated with salicylic acid.
Her hair is still styled and packed in perfect order and has shown no signs of falling off. Her cheeks, just like the rest of her body still is in almost perfect condition as the embalming procedure prevents them from caving in.
5. The State In Which The Body Of Rosalia Is Kept
Rosalia Lombardo’s body is encased in a glass-covered coffin which was placed on a wooden pedestal in the chapel at the end of the catacombs tour.
However, in 2009, a photograph of the body by National Geographic showed that the mummy had started showing signs of decomposition and so it had to be moved to somewhere drier in the catacombs.
Rosalia’s original coffin was then placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas to prevent decay.
6. Rosalia’s Body Is A Historical Achievement
To date, Rosalia Lombardo’s mummified body remains one of the best-preserved bodies in the Capuchin catacombs of Sicily.
Rossella Lorenzi of Discovery News reported that the Formalin injected into the body was used to prevent desiccation and the salicylic acid was used to eliminate any fungi within the flesh and the zinc salt’s purpose being petrification.
7. Legend About Rosalia Lombardo Eye Blinks
The mummy of Rosalia Lombardo has continued to be notorious with the legend that her eyes appear to open and close several times a day and this phenomenon reveals her perfect intact blue irises. This is the reason she was nicknamed ‘Sleeping beauty’ because it is believed by most visitors that with the blinking of her eyelids, she was only sleeping.
However, Piombino-Mascali, the curator of the catacombs stated that it is an optical illusion created by the light that filters in through the side windows of the catacomb, which is actually subject to change, during the day.
Piombino-Mascali also stated that Rosalia’s eyes are not completely closed and have never been.
8. Her body Was One Of The Last To Be Admitted Into The Catacombs Of Palermo
Rosalia Lombardo’s body is one of eight thousand mummies in the Capuchin catacombs of Sicily. Her body was mummified and was actually one of the last bodies to be admitted into the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo in Sicily.
9. Rosalia Lombardo’s Body Has Been In Almost Perfect Condition For Over A Century
Embalmer Alfredo Salafia performed a procedure on Rosalia Lombardo that should preserve her for eternity. All the ingredients Alfredo used to preserve the body give the body rigidity and essentially, turned it into wax, therefore, preserving the body over the years and for more years to come.
10. Rumors Of Rosalia’s Body Being Replaced
Due to the near-perfect nature of Rosalia’s body over the past century, so many rumors and speculation by skeptics has risen which disputes the fact that the body still enclosed in the glass case sitting in the chapel of the Capuchin catacombs is the original body of Rosalia mummified over a 100 years ago.
These skeptics claimed that the real body was replaced with a realistic wax replica. However, as this theory became a topic of a History Channel documentary in the 2000s, x-ray equipment was taken to the catacomb and the body of Rosalia was x-rayed for the first time in its existence.
It was discovered after the x-ray there was still the existence of her skeletal structure and all her organs were still intact. Rosalia’s brain was also perfectly visible and due to the mummification process had shrunken but only to about 50%.