Rosalia Lombardo died 100 years ago on December 6. The little girl mummy is so well preserved that it is now considered the most beautiful mummy in the world.
She was buried in the Cappuccino sanctuary of Palermo (Sicily) and was a tourist attraction for decades.
Rosalia Lombardo was born on December 13, 1918, as the daughter of General Mario Lombardo in the Sicilian capital Palermo.
Shortly before her second birthday, on December 6, 1920, the girl died of pneumonia as a result of the Spanish flu.
After Rosalia’s death, her father instructed the chemist Alfredo Salafia to embalm his daughter’s body. With a special conservation method, Salafia achieved extraordinary things: the mummy, which was later buried in the crypt of the Capuchin convent in Palermo, is so well preserved that it is considered the most beautiful mummy in the world. Even the smallest hairs can be seen on the child’s face.
Scientists have puzzled for decades about the embalming method used by Salafia. It was not until 2009 that the secret of the formula was revealed thanks to documents from the chemist’s estate that were resurfaced.
According to Dario Piombino-Mascali, anthropologist and scientific curator of the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, it is “a mixture of formalin, glycerine, zinc sulfate, alcohol and salicylic acid”, reports and quoted ” Deutschlandfunk ” the scientist.
Of the more than 2000 mummies in the crypt under the Capuchin monastery in Palermo, the mummy of Rosalia Lombardo is the most famous and in times before the corona pandemic, it attracted numerous tourists from home and abroad to the catacombs. In order to protect the mummy from the camera flash and other external influences, it was reburied in a glass coffin in 2012, writes “Deutschlandfunk”.
The Capuchin monastery was built in 1534, the crypt in 1599. Until 1670, mainly Capuchins were buried in the catacombs. Corpses showing little signs of decay were placed on the walls.
Later, members of the upper class were also buried in the Capuchin Crypt – until burials were banned there at the end of the 19th century. However, there were exceptions: for example, the burial of the mummy of little Rosalia Lombardo.