Distraught father had his daughter mummified and the preservation has been incredible

Billy Soden
By Billy Soden
March 14, 2017Science & Tech

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On December 13, 1918, in Palermo, Italy. Rosalia Lombardo was born. Just two years later, Rosalie died of pneumonia on December 6, 1920. Mario Lombardo, Rosalie’s father, was distraught. He asked a very well-known embalmer at the time, Alfredo Salafia, to preserve her body. Salafia agreed, and Rosalia Lombardo Capuchin making her one of the last corpses admitted to the catacombs of Palermo in Sicily.

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Fast forward to the year 2009, when a National Geographic photograph of Rosalia indicated that the mummy was showing signs of decomposition, most markedly discoloration. X-rays at the time also showed that her bodily organs remained exceptionally preserved and intact. Up until then, Rosalia was set on a wood pedestal and kept in a glass-covered coffin, on display near a small chapel of the catacomb’s tour.

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It was at that time that the mummy was moved from her original location to a drier area. She was put in nitrogen-infused and hermetically-sealed glass enclosure. The nitrogen is used at times to prevent further decay. To this day, the mummy of Rosalia Lombardi remains one of the most well-preserved bodies in the catacombs. Salafia’s mummification techniques have been researched by scientists. In a handwritten memoir, Salafia replaced the blood of Rosalie with a bacteria-killing liquid. That liquid contained liquid alcohol (for drying), glycerin (to prevent overdrying), salicylic acid (to kill fungi), and zinc salts (to provide rigidity).

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