Rosalia Lombardo in 1995
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
|Died||6 December 1920 (aged 2)|
|Other names||Sleeping Beauty of the Capuchin Catacombs|
|Known for||Being a well-preserved corpse in the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo|
Rosalia Lombardo (1918 in Palermo, Italy – December 6, 1920), was an Italian child who died of influenza. Rosalia's father, General Lombardo, was sorely grieved upon her death, so he approached Alfredo Salafia, a noted embalmer, to preserve her. Her body was one of the last corpses to be admitted to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo in Sicily.
Thanks to Salafia's embalming techniques, the body was well preserved. X-rays of the body show that all the organs are remarkably intact. Rosalia Lombardo's body is kept in a small chapel at the end of the catacomb's tour and is encased in a glass covered coffin, placed on a marble pedestal. A 2009 National Geographic photograph of Rosalia Lombardo shows the mummy is beginning to show signs of decomposition, most notably discoloration. To address these issues the mummy was moved to a new drier spot in the catacombs, and her original coffin was placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas to prevent decay. The mummy is one of the best preserved bodies in the catacombs.
Recently, the mummification techniques used by Salafia were discovered in a handwritten memoir of Salafia's. Salafia replaced the girl's blood with a liquid made of formalin to kill bacteria, alcohol to dry the body, glycerin to keep her from overdrying, salicylic acid to kill fungi, and zinc salts to give her body rigidity. Accordingly, the formula's composition is "one part glycerin, one part formalin saturated with both zinc sulfate and chloride, and one part of an alcohol solution saturated with salicylic acid."
Dario Piombino-Mascali, 2009. Il Maestro del Sonno Eterno. Presentazione di Arthur C. Aufderheide. Prefazione di Albert R. Zink. Edizioni La Zisa, Palermo.
- National Geographic magazine, Feb 2009, p.124
- National Geographic magazine, Feb 2009, p.150
- "The Girl in the Glass Casket | National Geographic Channel". Channel.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "Lost "Sleeping Beauty" Mummy Formula Found". News.nationalgeographic.com. October 28, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- "Einbalsamierung: Forscher lösen Rätsel der makellosen Mumie - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Wissenschaft". Spiegel.de. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- Piombino-Mascali D, Aufderheide AC, Johnson-Williams M, Zink AR (March 2009). "The Salafia method rediscovered". Virchows Arch. 454 (3): 355–7. doi:10.1007/s00428-009-0738-6. PMID 19205728.