100-Year-Old Mummy Of A Little Girl That Blinks Her Eyes Mystery Of Rosalia Lombardo! (1)

100-Year-Old Mummy Of A Little Girl That Blinks Her Eyes | Mystery Of Rosalia Lombardo!

In the heart of Palermo, Sicily, lies a mystery that’s both haunting and fascinating. Rosalia Lombardo was just a child when she passed away in 1920. However, thanks to an extraordinary embalming process by Alfredo Salafia, she rests in the Capuchin catacombs, looking as peaceful as if she were merely sleeping. But it’s not her serene expression that has captured the world’s attention. It’s the eerie phenomenon of her eyes that seem to open and close!

In 2009 National Geographic documentary did an MRI and the photos taken revealed something shocking. Her eyelids seem to shutter by 1/8 of an inch! It actually looked like her eyes opened and closed. Interestingly, like all her other body parts, her blue eyes glisten in low lights. How is it possible for the eyes to move after the body has been mummified for over a century? Let’s dive in to learn more about this fascinating and eerie story. 

The Life and Untimely Death of Rosalia Lombardo

Rosalia Lombardo's Parents
Rosalia Lombardo’s Parents

Rosalia’s story begins in early 20th century Palermo, where she lived with her family. Tragically, just before her second birthday, she succumbed to pneumonia, a consequence of the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic that swept the globe. The loss devastated her father, Mario Lombardo. According to the catacombs’ website, he has instructed her embalmer to make her “live forever.”He sought to preserve her memory in the most remarkable way.

Video source: Cybertosh

Alfredo Salafia: The Master Embalmer Behind “Sleeping Beauty”

Enter Alfredo Salafia, a name synonymous with revolutionary embalming techniques. Salafia’s method, involving the injection of a special fluid, ensured Rosalia’s preservation as one of the world’s best-preserved mummies. This process, chosen by her grieving father, has kept Rosalia’s memory alive, her delicate features frozen in time.

Alfredo Salafia
Alfredo Salafia, Embalmer Behind “Sleeping Beauty”

Alfredo Salafia died in 1933, and he took the secret formula of his extraordinary embalming to the grave. Piombino-Mascali tracked down his living relatives and uncovered a trove of his papers. Among Alfredo’s documents, he found a handwritten memoir. In that, he recorded the chemicals he injected into Rosalia’s body: formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin. Alcohol, along with the dry climate in the catacombs, dried Lombardo’s body. However, glycerin he added kept her body from drying out too much. The use of salicylic acid stopped the growth of fungi in her resting body.

Rosalia rests in Capuchin catacombs. The Capuchin catacombs of Palermo serve as the final resting place for over 8,000 souls, but none quite as captivating as Rosalia. Established in the 16th century, these catacombs hold a unique place in cultural and historical narratives, showcasing a range of burial practices and the societal importance of remembrance.

Rosalia Lombardo
Image source: Reddit / All that’s interesting

The Mystery of the Blinking Mummy

But why does Rosalia seem to blink? Scientific explanations suggest that variations in temperature, humidity, and lighting create this illusion, with time-lapse photography offering evidence of her eyelids’ slight movements. Some theorists say that it is mainly due to fluctuations in the temperature inside the crypt. The changes in temperature make Rosalia Lombardo’s eyelids contract which makes it appear like she is blinking.

Capuchin Catacombs’s curator, Dario Piombino-Mascali has a different take on this eerie phenomenon. According to him, the blinking is merely an optical illusion. The light filters inside the catacombs window through different directions. The angle at which the light strikes her face changes throughout the day. It gives the observers a feeling as if she is closing and opening her eyes several times.

Also, it can be seen that her eyes are never fully closed. It is apparently an intentional act by Alfredo to make her look more alive and eerie. Yet, this logical explanation does little to diminish the allure and mystery surrounding “Sleeping Beauty.”

Rosalia Lombardo
Image source: All that’s interesting
Image source: Reddit


Rosalia Lombardo’s enduring legacy is a testament to the power of memory, the advances of science, and the depths of human emotion. Her story, bridging the past with the present, invites us to reflect on the importance of preserving our cultural heritage for future generations. As we marvel at the mystery of the blinking mummy, we’re reminded of the timeless quest to understand life, death, and the legacy we leave behind.

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