Rosalia Lombardo

Rosalia Lombardo: The “Sleeping Beauty” Of Capuchin Catacombs


Many call Italian child Rosalia Lombardo (December 13, 1918 – December 6, 1920) “Sleeping Beauty.” Unfortunately, due to pneumonia, Lombardo lived a very short life. Her death left her father (Mario Lombardo) devastated and eager to preserve her body. To preserve her corpse, he reached out to famous Sicilian embalmer Alfredo Salafia (November 7, 1869 – January 31, 1933).

There is not much known about the life of Rosalia. However, what is known, is that amazingly, thanks to the work of Alfredo Salafia, Lombardo is now one of the best preserved mummies in the world.

Other names Lombardo Has Been Called

The World’s Most Beautiful Mummy, the Girl in the Glass Coffin, and the Best Preserved Mummy in the World.

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

CatacombsLombardo’s body is said to be one of the last to be admitted to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo located in Sicily. Open to the public as a tourist attraction, the catacombs contain 8000 corpses and 1252 mummies. Today, Lombardo’s mummy is kept in a small chapel encased in a glass covered coffin. Thousands of visitors have came to visit the catacombs just to get a good view of this intact mummy.

Embalming Techniques Used By Salafia

embalming fluidFormalin: Used to kill bacteria.

Alcohol: Used to dry the body.

Glycerin: Used to keep Lombardo from over-drying.

Salicylic Acid: Used to kill fungi.

Zinc Salts: Used to give the body rigidity.

The procedure by Salafia was apparently lost for decades. However, it was recently rediscovered.

Lombardo’s body was so well preserved, X-rays show that all of her organs remain intact.

Is Lombardo’s Body Finally Showing Signs Of Decomposition?

Lombardo's mummy today

Rosalia im Mai” by Habanero666 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Lombardo may be the best preserved mummy of all time. However, based on a 2009 National Geographic photograph, Lombardo’s mummy is showing discoloration. To prevent this issue from getting worse, she has been moved to a drier spot in the catacombs. To help prevent further decay, Lombardo’s coffin was placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas.

Why Does Lombardo Still Open Her Eyes In Her Coffin? 

An Explanation By A Curator Of The Capuchin Catacombs In Sicily

What has baffled many, is that although Lombardo has been gone for nearly a century, she appears to be opening and closing her eyes. However, one man says there is an explanation for this phenomenon. Dario Piombino-Mascali of the Capuchin Catacombs says what people are seeing is nothing but an optical illusion. He says the illusion is produced by the light that filters through the side windows. Piombino-Mascali says that the illusion is also caused by Lombardo’s eyes not being completely closed. It would certainly be a bit creepy to see a corpse that actually blinks.


Now that you have seen a fascinating series of video frames showing Lombardo opening her eyes, we would like to know what you think. Is it just an optical illusion (explained by Dario Piombino-Mascali)? Or is she really opening her eyes nearly 100 years after her death? One thing we can say with certainty is that little Rosalia Lombardo is one of the best preserved mummies in the world.

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About Joseph Caltabiano

Joseph Caltabiano is a writer, oddities lover and a former surgical technologist. He left the field of surgical technology to pursue a career in blogging and internet marketing. As clearly shown in his posts, Joseph is very passionate about unusual topics. His two most favorite topics are medical and weird science.