We’ve all loved the fairytale stories of the Disney Princesses. While the movie of beauty and the beast flooded the cinemas with fans and curious people – who unexpectedly loved the movie, a real-life sleeping beauty lays in Palermo, Sicily in southern Italy.
Tons of tourists and guests visit the Capuchin convent wherein beneath it is a catacomb of 8,000 mummies. The convent is known for their expertise in preserving mummies.
There have been tours set up for viewing the mummies, although it might be creepy, many visitors came to see the most beautiful mummy of them all. Near end of the tour will show you to a small chapel with a glass coffin resting on top of a wooden pedestal. This serves as the coffin of Rosalia Lombardo, dubbed as “The Sleeping Beauty”.
Rosalia Lombardo was a 2-year-old girl who diêd on December 6, 1920. Her father, Mario Lombardo grieved for her lost daughter that at a young age diêd of Pneumonia.
His love for his daughter pushed him to ask Alfredo Salafia, an established embalmer, to preserve her. Till this day, after 100 years, the little girl’s body is so well preserved that she only looks like she’s sleeping. How amazing is that?
No one actually knows about the little girl’s life yet she was so perfectly preserved that even her organs are still intact. A blanket covered her tiny frame, and only her head is seen. Her curly blond hair was tied with a ribbon which only adds to her innocent charm.
Contrary to her peaceful slumber, it was rumored that Rosalia’s eyes open and closes many times during the day. It was so creepy and scary, yet a lot of people still comes to see her.
However, Dario Piombino-Mascali, the Capuchin Catacomb’s curator, has an explanation for this spooky phenomenon. According to him, the environment and placement of Rosalia’s coffin have played a factor on it.
He said it is “an optical illusion produced by the light that filters through the side windows, which during the day is subject to change.” He added that Rosalia’s eyes are “not completely closed, and indeed they never have been”, that’s why some people claim that they can see her blue eyes! That is an astounding mummification work!
Alfredo Salafia, although dead, was considered as an artist for the way he preserved Rosalia. When his formula for embalming was finally revealed, they were surprised that Zinc was used. According to Melissa Johnson Williams, executive director of American Society of Embalmers, “Zinc gave her rigidity.
You could take her out of the casket prop her up, and she would stand by herself.” Self-taught Salafia seems to have “elevated embalming to its highest level”, said by Piombino-Mascali.
It is amazing yet sad that this sleeping beauty has become an art piece. But as we look at the photos of the little girl, she looks so sweet and peaceful that we can only think she’s had a happy life.