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Mystery of the 'blinking' child mummy solved

Italian researchers have debunked morbid claims that a child mummy in Sicily opens and closes her eyes every day.

Mystery of the 'blinking' child mummy solved
The mummy of Rosalia Lombardo allegedly opening and closing her eyes
[Credit: Google images]
Recorded in time lapse photos and videos, the creepy phenomenon has been the subject of various speculations for some years. This week, Italian newspapers again reported that Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old girl who died of pneumonia in 1920, moves her eyelids several times during the day, slightly opening them to reveal intact blue eyes.

One of the world’s best preserved mummies, Rosalia is the most famous among some 8,000 thousands mummies lining the catacombs beneath the Capuchin convent in Palermo, Sicily.

Nicknamed “sleeping beauty,” she looks like a 2-year-old baby taking a nap. Poking above a blanket, her peaceful face is framed by curly blond hair, while a ribbon is still tied around her head.

Although amazingly mummified, Rosalia doesn’t open and shut her eyes.

“It’s an optical illusion produced by the light that filters through the side windows, which during the day is subject to change,” Dario Piombino-Mascali, curator of the Capuchin Catacombs, said in a statement Thursday.

He noted the mummy was moved slightly and shifted to a horizontal position in a humidity-free glass coffin.

The new position makes it easier see Rosalia’s eyelids.

“They are not completely closed, and indeed they have never been,” Piombino-Mascali said.

The anthropologist unearthed Rosalia’s real secret in 2009, when he found the mysterious formula used for her amazing preservation.

While most of the mummies buried in the catacombs were treated by the monks and basically desiccated by the dry environment, Rosalia was mummified artificially.

To preserve her for eternity, Rosalia’s heartbroken father turned to embalmer Alfredo Salafia, a Sicilian taxidermist and embalmer who died in 1933. Salafia never revealed the chemicals used in his preservative.

In 2009 Piombino-Mascali found a handwritten manuscript in which Salafia listed the ingredients used to mummify Rosalia. The formula read: “one part glycerin, one part formalin saturated with both zinc sulfate and chloride, and one part of an alcohol solution saturated with salicylic acid.”

The procedure was very simple, consisting of a single point injection without any drainage or cavity treatment.

The concoction worked perfectly. Formalin killed bacteria, glycerin kept her body from overdrying, salicylic acid killed fungi, while zinc salts basically petrified Rosalia’s body.

The new glass case will help preserve Rosalia for many more years.

“It was designed to block any bacteria or fungi. Thanks to a special film, it also protects the body from the effects of light,” Piombino-Mascali said.

He hopes that from now on tourists will stop taking pictures and making up “totally unfounded stories” about the child mummy.

Author: Rossella Lorenzi | Source: Discovery News [June 20, 2014]

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  1. A heart wrenching tragedy especially for the parents. May little Rosalia rest in everlasting peace.

  2. If this is truly an political illusions due to light changes then why aren't the shadows shifting surrounding her face. Sorry, but I don't believe science can explain everything.

    1. You....You do know that not all light based optical illusions have light moving in them?
      Also if the light isn't moving, how could two hours have passed?
      And if it isn't natural light, refer to my first sentence.

  3. Looking at the two photos above, one must observe that the two were taken at slightly different angles.. on the left, her eyes are barely slitted, a true asleep look whereas on the right, the angle has been lowered, so the eyes appear to be opened further. So she does not actually open her eyes, its all in the angle. May she rest in eternal peace, sweet little tot.

  4. No child should be displayed for people to come and see. it's sad to see a little child dead in there resting place if they should give her a proper bearial instead of being amazed by how well preserved she is that's how I fill being a father of 2 little girls my self


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