The “mummy child” and the mystery of the open eyes

The “mummy child” and the mystery of the open eyes
The “mummy child” and the mystery of the open eyes

In Palermo, near the Catacombs of the Capuchins, there is the still intact mummy of a little girl who died just over a century ago. What is surprising about her slender little body is not only its perfect state of preservation, but the fact that the little girl continues to open and close her eyes over time. Experts have given a scientific explanation to this mystery that fascinates many, but which has not altered the charm of the “child mummy” in the least.

The story of Rosalia Lombardo

The mummy in question, considered the most beautiful in the world, is that of little Rosalia Lombardo, born in Palermo on December 13, 1918 and died at the age of two on December 6, 1920, from pneumonia. Father Mario, devastated by grief, turned to the embalmer and pathologist Alfredo Salafia to preserve her daughter’s body.

Salafia, one of the most skilled embalmers of the 20th century, is said to have used a particular technique involving the administration of a solution containing formaldehyde. The result he obtained was astonishing: Rosalia’s little body almost seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Her skin was smooth and soft, her hair was still intact and her eyelashes were perfectly visible.

The scientific explanation for the strange movement of the eyelids

The mummy of Rosalia Lombardo has fascinated and intrigued numerous scholars and experts to this day, who have tried to understand how it was possible that the body of such a small girl could be preserved so well for so long. Some have hypothesized that the formaldehyde solution used by Salafia played a key role in the embalming process, others believe that the dry and ventilated climate of the Capuchin Cemetery helped preserve the little girl’s body.

Regardless of the scientific explanation, Rosalía’s mummy continues to exert a mysterious and magnetic fascination on anyone who observes it. But what is most surprising and makes us cry out for a miracle are the little girl’s eyes that seem to open several times a day. To investigate the causes of this phenomenon, the mummy was photographed over the course of a day with a time interval of 60 seconds. This has allowed some scholars to establish that it is a phenomenon due to the humidity and the lights of the device that together generate a photodecomposition, creating the movement of the eyelids opening and closing.

Some skeletons visible in the Capuchin Catacombs

Tourist attraction

The “mummy child” has become a real tourist attraction in Palermo, arousing wonder and terror among visitors. Rosalia is an icon of the city of Palermo and a symbol of the fragility and beauty of childhood. Every year thousands of people visit the Capuchin Catacombs to see the little girl’s mummy and pay tribute to her memory. Her story invites us to reflect on the brevity of life and the power of the love of parents for their children, even beyond death.

(Photo: Capuchin Catacombs, Facebook page)

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