The ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Who Blinks.

Alexis Useche, reporter

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In the catacombs of Sicily, Italy is the preserved corpse of a two year old girl named Rosalia Lombardo. Rosalia, or nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty”, is well-known for her eyes to blink during the days or nights.


Rosalia was born in 1918 and had died in 1920 from pneumonia; her father who could not cope with the loss of his daughter sought out a famous embalmer, Alfredo Salafia. Salafia used a mixture of various chemicals while embalming her. Even after almost 100 years she still looks like a sleeping child. However, when Salafia died in 1933, he never told anyone his secret formula.


When tourists examine Rosalia’s corpse, they see a young child with blond hair wrapped in a blanket with her head sticking out. Rosalia also has a yellow bow tied around her head. Rosalia’s eyes will open and shut as if she were never dead.  


Italian scientists have figured out why this happens. According to Movie”It’s an optical illusion produced by the light that filters through the side windows, which during the day is subject to change. [Her eyelids] are not completely closed, and indeed they have never been.”


It wasn’t until 2009, 89 years later, when Salafia’s techniques were revealed. According to National Geographic News, “ A search of Salafia’s papers revealed a handwritten memoir in which he recorded the chemicals he injected into Rosalia’s body: formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin.”


Formalin is a mixture of water and formaldehyde, which kills bacteria; it is now very common to use when embalming. Alcohol was used to help dry out the body allowing it to mummify with the conditions of the catacombs. Glycerin was to keep her body of drying out too much. The salicylic was to help prevent fungi from growing.


Today, almost 100 years later, the “Sleeping Beauty” is shown off as the most famous mummified being out of all 8,000 laid to rest in the catacombs of Sicily.


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The ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Who Blinks.