Weird Story

Rosalia Lombardo: The Mystery Of The "Blinking Mummy"

Mummification, while still practiced in some remote cultures, is not a common practice in the Western world. Rosalia Lombardo was a two-year-old girl who passed away in 1920 due to a severe case of bronchopneumonia, a type of pneumonia that causes inflammation in the alveoli.


Despite receiving the best medical care available at the time, Rosalia Lombardo was unable to overcome bronchopneumonia due to her young age and underdeveloped immune system.

Mario Lombardo: A Desperate Father

Mario Lombardo, Rosalia's father, was determined to find out the exact cause of her death in order to assign blame. The Lombardo family was Italian and although the Spanish flu pandemic was ending, it seemed that Rosalia's pneumonia may have been caused by this deadly disease. Mario Lombardo refused to bury his daughter, stating that the loss of his son had already caused him great distress.


Rosalia passed away just one week before her second birthday, leaving Mario Lombardo deeply grief-stricken. In an effort to keep his daughter as "alive as possible," he asked Alfredo Salafia, a renowned Italian pharmacist known for his expertise in corpse preservation, to mummify her. Salafia was highly respected for his extensive knowledge in this area.

Word of Rosalia Lombardo's story reached Professor Salafia, who agreed to mummify her body for free. He was moved by Rosalia's angelic appearance and was determined to perfect the preservation technique in order to maintain her natural beauty. As a result, Rosalia Lombardo's mummified body appeared to be the most lifelike mummy in the world.


Notes detailing the process of Rosalia Lombardo's mummification were discovered in the 1970s. These notes contained a formula for the chemicals used in the mummification process:


Saturated formaldehyde

Zinc sulfate

Salicylic alcohol


Rosalia Lombardo – "The Blinking Mummy"


Rosalia Lombardo is commonly referred to as the "Sleeping Beauty" of the Capuchin Catacombs. Her mummified remains are housed at Palermo's Catacombe dei Cappuccini, a location filled with mummified bodies and other corpses from throughout history. The dry atmosphere inside the Catacomb has helped to preserve Rosalia's body almost perfectly.

A strange phenomenon that startled tourists visiting the catacombs was that the mummy appeared to be blinking. Some people believed that Lombardo had opened her eyes slightly in a series of time-lapse photographs. Many visitors to her mummified remains considered her a miracle because she seemed to blink even though she has been deceased for a long time.


The myth of the mummy who could open her eyes circulated on the internet, but in 2009, Italian biological anthropologist Dario Piombino-Mascali disproved this myth surrounding Rosalia Lombardo. He explained that the appearance of eye movement was actually an optical illusion.

Paraffin dissolved in ether applied to the girl's face creates the illusion that she is staring directly at the viewer. This effect, combined with the changing light that filters through the windows of the tombs throughout the day, causes the girl's eyes to appear open. Upon closer inspection, it can be observed that her eyelids are not completely closed, which was likely done in an effort to make her look more lifelike. The body was well-preserved due to Salafia's embalming techniques.


Present Condition Of Rosalia Lombardo's Mummy: The Preserved Corpse Was Relocated


X-rays of the body show that all of the organs are in excellent condition. Rosalia Lombardo's remains are housed in a small chapel at the end of the catacomb tour, displayed in a glass-covered coffin on a wooden pedestal. However, photographs taken of the preserved body by National Geographic in 2009 show signs of decomposition, including discoloration.


To prevent further decomposition, Rosalia Lombardo's body was moved to a drier area of the catacombs and placed in a hermetically sealed glass container filled with nitrogen gas. Despite these efforts, the mummy remains one of the best preserved corpses in the tombs.