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The Blinking Mummy

Because he loved his daughter so much, a father immortalized his daughter into a mummy. The mummification process took place in 1920, Rosalia Lombardo born in December 13, 1918 in Italy, and died at the age of 2 in 1920. This little girl died of pneumonia resulting from the Spanish flu. Mario Lombardo, her father, want her to "live forever", whom he thought had died too early. He then summoned Alfredo Salafia, a taxidermist who used to preserve animals. Alfredo Salafia was asked by Rosalia's father to immortalize his daughter into a mummy.

Image credit: Wikipedia

It is true that the existence of the Rosalia mummy is not as famous as the egyptian mummies but the mummy of Rosalia Lombardo has its own uniqueness due to the mummification process. 

With Salafia expertise, after more than a hundred years of her death, the girl's body still looks perfect. Rosalia Lombardo has earned a reputation as one of the best-preserved mummies in the world. X-rays of the body show that all the organs are remarkably intact. 

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 drier spot in the catacombs, and her original coffin was placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas to prevent decay. Until now, Rosalia's corpse was placed inside a glass casket at the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Italy. Rosalia has the nickname "Sleeping Beauty of Palermo".

Rosalia Lombardo is one of the main attractions for visitors. The mummy has achieved further notoriety for a phenomenon in which her eyes appear to open and close several times a day, revealing her intact blue irises.

One of the Capuchin Catacombs curators, Dario Piombino-Mascali discovered this phenomenon in 2009. At that time he saw workers at the museum removing Rosalia's coffin. As her body shifted slightly, he saw her eyelids clearer than before. Piombino-Mascali realized, Rosalia's eyes were not completely closed.

It is thought that the change in temperature inside the cellar caused her eyelids to produce the blinking effect. Piombino-Mascali further believed that Rosalia's blinking eyes were an optical illusion caused by the angle of light coming from the window. As the direction of the light changed, Rosalia's eyes seemed to open and close several times throughout the day.

The "Blinking Mummy" is one of eight thousand mummies in the Capuchin Catacombs of Sicily. It was one of the last corpses to be admitted to the catacombs.


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