This photograph is genuine and shows the remains of little Rosalia Lombardo who died around 1920. Rosalia's body lies in the Capuchins'Catacombs at Palermo in Italy.
The catacombs date back to the 1599 when the local priests mummified a holy monk for all to see. They wanted to pray to him after death.
In time the locals wanted their relatives remembered in this same way. Soon there were hundreds of corpses. Some of the deceased wrote wills expressing the clothes in which to bury them in. Included in the catacombs are hundreds of coffins as well. Some contain the corpse that was buried in them. The side is sometimes cut to expose the deceased.
Rosalia Lombardo was one of the last corpses to make it to the catacombs before the local authorities discontinued the practice. Rosalia died about 1920 and is nicknamed the "Sleeping Beauty". It was said that her sister and family visited her coffin often after her death. Rosalia Lombardo was embalmed by Dr Alfredo Solafia who reportedly used chemical injections to preserve the body. The exact procedure for this, apparently very effective, embalming technique was lost when Dr Solafia died.
Visitors to Palermo can visit the Catacombs and view the corpses, including that of little Rosalia. For mor reading click on link