YOLO: You Only Live Once, right? Actually, you live every day and die once. YODO: You Only Die Once! If that sounds eerie, then imagine seeing a corpse blinking at you as you stare at it. That’s the story you’ll be telling if you ever visit the catacombs of Sicily. Dear friends, meet Rosalia Lombardo — the mystery of the incredibly well-preserved corpse who blinks perpetually.
Related media: ICONIC CORPSE: Sweet Little (Haunted?) Rosalia Lombardo
The Sleeping Beauty
Rosalia Lombardo was the daughter of Mario Lombardo, a city official from Palermo, Italy. She led a very strange short-lived life and died of pneumonia at the age of two in 1920. Her father was really grieved with her daughter’s sudden demise. So he gave her body to the legendary embalmer Alfredo Salafia to preserve it in perpetuity, who was considered to be the finest embalmer at the time. How many other embalmers do you know of that have their own Wikipedia page?
Salafia was seasoned as much as he was eerie at his job. Whatever the accolades he earned, he has been able to keep that embalming chemical recipe a secret, even long after his death. Today, the body of Rosalia looks as if she’s about to wink (more on that in a moment). She’s adorned with a little yellow ribbon that make her seem as if she’s only fallen asleep in her Sunday clothes. She looks cute, but heartbreakingly eerie; and in Sicily, she’s known as “Sleeping Beauty” — no wonder.
What’s Keeping Her Preserved
What chemical cocktail in the weird name of chemistry is the magic behind Salafia’s embalming mystery? That question was finally answered. In 2009, Italian anthropologist Dario Piombino-Mascali made the breakthrough discovery that revealed Salafia’s secret that was hidden for decades. Inside Salafia’s former office, there was a handwritten memoir that held the secret chemical recipe that did the magic. It was a mixture of formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin. You better not try this recipe at home.
You Don’t Only Blink Once
The corpse of a two-year-old girl perfectly preserved for all time is pretty eerie. What on Earth in the eerie name of “who-knows-what” makes the body of Rosalia Lombardo keeps on blinking in perpetuity? Short answer: optical illusion. This is cause by the reflection of sunlight passing through the glass catacomb in which she’s laid to rest.
It’s not that her eyes appear to open, though, it’s that they appear to close. Her eyes are wide open, but appears to close as the shadow filter through the glass, her eyelids seem to blink. Mmm?! Unbelievable, huh? Then you better find out for yourself whenever you visit the catacombs below Sicily’s Capuchin convent.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Aug 18, 2019.