Rosalia Lombardo

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Rosalia Lombardo
Palermo Rosalia Lombardo.jpg
Rosalia Lombardo in 1982
Born (1918-12-13)December 13, 1918
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died December 6, 1920 (1920-12-07) (aged 1)
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Nationality Italian
Other names Sleeping Beauty of the Capuchin Catacombs
Known for Being so well-preserved that it looks like she is sleeping in her tomb that is located in the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo

Rosalia Lombardo (December 13, 1918 in Palermo, Italy – December 6, 1920)[1] was an Italian child who died of pneumonia. Rosalia's father, Official Mario Lombardo, was sorely grieved upon her death, so he approached Alfredo Salafia, a noted embalmer, to preserve her.[2] 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.[3] 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 wooden pedestal. A 2009 National Geographic photograph of Rosalia Lombardo shows the mummy is beginning to show signs of decomposition, most notably discoloration.[4] To address these issues the mummy was moved to a drier spot in the catacombs, and her original coffin was placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas to prevent decay.[5] The mummy is one of the best preserved bodies in the catacombs.


Lombardo's body as it appears today.

Recently, the mummification techniques used by Salafia were discovered in his handwritten memoir. He injected the cadaver with a fluid 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.[6][7][8] 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."


  1. ^ Panser, Stephanie; et al. (2013). "Multidetector CT investigation of the mummy of Rosalia Lombardo (1918–1920)". Annals of Anatomy (195): 401. doi:10.1016/j.aanat.2013.03.009. 
  2. ^ National Geographic magazine, Feb 2009, p.124
  3. ^ National Geographic magazine, Feb 2009, p.150
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Girl in the Glass Casket | National Geographic Channel". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Lost "Sleeping Beauty" Mummy Formula Found". October 28, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Einbalsamierung: Forscher lösen Rätsel der makellosen Mumie - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Wissenschaft". Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  8. ^ 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. 


  • Dario Piombino-Mascali, 2009. Il Maestro del Sonno Eterno. Presentazione di Arthur C. Aufderheide. Prefazione di Albert R. Zink. Edizioni La Zisa, Palermo.
  • Stephanie Panzer, Heather Gill-Frerking, Wilfried Rosendahl, Albert Zink and Dario Piombino-Mascali, 2013. Multidetector CT investigation of the mummy of Rosalia Lombardo (1918-1920). Annals of Anatomy, 195: 401-408.

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