Monday, January 11, 2016

Are you my mummy?

I am quite pleased with having subscribed to the Science channel and I really enjoy watching a show called "World's Strangest." During one particular episode, we got to explore all sorts of subterranean secrets and you wouldn't believe what they have hidden underground! From chapels carved out of salt in a mine to an underground mansion to what lies beneath New York's Grand Central Station, you would be captivated!  I found a link here that shows part of the show.

My favorite part of the episode was when they talked about the Capuchin monastery's catacombs in Palermo, Italy. These catacombs are well known for their well preserved corpses. In fact, there are over 8000 corpses and 1252 mummies who reside there!  Some bodies are seen laying in coffins, while others line the walls. For the record, this is a tourist attraction and you are able to go visit the mummies!   

This is also the resting place of the catacombs most popular resident, an Italian child mummy named Rosalia Lombardo (AKA Sleeping Beauty.)  This little girl died of Pneumonia in 1920 at only two years old. Her father grieved so much over her death that he sought out embalmer and taxidermist, Alfredo Salafia's aid in order to preserve her remains.

What makes Rosalia so special and stands out is credited to Salafia's supreme embalming techniques.  At first glance, one would think the child was peacefully sleeping and not really a corpse. In fact, x- rays were taken of her internal organs and they were still intact! The only signs of decay is the yellowing of her skin. For many years, people wondered exactly what kind of embalming formula did Salafia use.  It was only until very recently (2009) his memoir was discovered and we learned about his technique.
 
Photo of Rosalia taken from Wikipedia page

What was not discussed in the episode but after further reading about the child mummy online, I learned that there was a mysterious phenomena surrounding Rosalia. You see, many people have reported seeing the child's eyes open and close shut. Turns out, it was nothing paranormal or mysterious. It was simply temperature changes and the angles of light filtering through a side window that gave the optical illusion. The mummy was also slightly moved and placed into a humidity free coffin.  The new position helps you get a better glimpse of her eyelids. In addition, her eyes were never completely closed to begin with! This is only a testament to Salafia's techniques where after all this time, almost a century later, we can still see her blue eyes!



12 comments:

  1. That's pretty creepy Sylvie! She's a fine corpse.

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  2. OK that kid is scary~! Skipping over the video!

    Wow, an underground mansion! Can I have one?

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  3. I have a black & white and colored image of her saved on one of my pinterest boards. Super fascinating.

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  4. Sounds like an interesting channel. I've been to the Paris catacombs, but I'd really like to visit the ones in Palermo, they look much scarier!

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    1. I would love to go to the Paris catacombs as well. Palermo is definitely on my must travel to list now!

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  5. Immensely interesting! I simply must ask Tony (a native son of Italy) in the morning if he's ever heard of this precious little mummy.

    ♥ Jessica

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  6. That's creepy but really compelling at the same time. I never knew about her so thanks for sharing! The are you my mummy episode used to be one of my favourites too.

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    1. Thank you. I never knew about her too and thought it was cool. I like that you got my Doctor Who reference :)

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