Teaching Students About Rosalia Lombardo

Teaching students about historical figures is an integral part of any educational curriculum. One such personality that captures the imagination of students is Rosalia Lombardo, affectionately known as the “Sleeping Beauty.” In this article, we will discuss how to effectively teach students about Rosalia Lombardo’s life and her significance in history.

Lesson 1: Who was Rosalia Lombardo?

To begin the lessons on Rosalia Lombardo, start with an overview of her personal story. Born in 1918 in Palermo, Italy, Rosalia was a beautiful child that tragically died at just two years old due to pneumonia. Her grief-stricken father, General Mario Lombardo, hired a renowned Italian embalmer named Alfredo Salafia to mummify her body. Salafia’s innovative process turned Rosalia’s body into a remarkably well-preserved mummy, allowing us to learn from his unique technique even today.

Lesson 2: Understanding the Embalming Process

Salafia’s embalming technique utilized chemicals like formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin to preserve Rosalia’s body. This lesson can delve into the science behind this concoction and why each chemical played a crucial role in maintaining her lifelike appearance for over a century. Through photographs and videos showcasing her preservation, students can learn about the intricacies behind modern mummification techniques and Salafia’s groundbreaking contributions to this field.

Lesson 3: Exploring the Capuchin Catacombs

Rosalia’s perfectly preserved body is kept in a glass case at the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo – a location that has become synonymous with her story. Offer students insights into the history behind these catacombs and how they have housed thousands of mummies since their establishment in the late-16th century. By incorporating a virtual tour, you can give students an opportunity to explore this historic site without leaving the classroom.

Lesson 4: Cultural Impact and Reflection

Finally, initiate a discussion among students regarding Rosalia Lombardo’s cultural impact and the implications of her story. Invite them to contemplate ethical questions related to mummification, the grieving process, and the intersection of science and humanity. Encourage students to consider what they’ve learned about Rosalia and how her legacy can inform our understanding of history and ourselves.


Teaching students about Rosalia Lombardo offers an engaging opportunity to explore topics spanning history, science, ethics, and culture. By incorporating comprehensive lessons on her story, preservation techniques, the Capuchin Catacombs, and her lasting influence on society, educators can spark thought-provoking discussions that resonate with learners long after they leave the classroom.

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