to the Mummy
by Luigi Copertino
Despite repeated appeals from both the Citizens and the Administration of
Torricella, the latest of which was in these columns in last October’s issue,
for a dignified provision to accommodate publicly the sixteenth century
discovery that we can call the “Mummy of Torricella”, that was discovered during
restoration of the Church of San Giacomo, nothing has been done about it and
nobody has acted.
Thus the “Mummy”, or rather the cadaver which underwent spontaneous
mummification, that is thought to be a “bailiff” (Country Magistrate of the 16th
Century) buried beneath the village’s Mother-Church, whilst still awaiting to be
settled has been placed temporarily in a room at the Town Hall. We have
already had occasion to write about the research that was to have been carried
out on the “Mummy” by Dr. Luigi Capasso, an anthropologist with the
Soprintendenza Archeologica di Chieti (Chieti Archaeology Office), which began
but was then suspended due to lack of funds, and which would have enabled
Torricellans to learn more historical facts about their own roots.
Evidently it was not of interest to either the citizens or the local public
officials (Town Hall, Mountain Community, Soprintendenza, etc.), busy with the
ephemera and whirlwind of modern-day events, to contribute to rebuilding their
own distant origins. Now, unless there is some late but timely intervention,
pubic or private, there is only one alternative: a dignified burial in the
village cemetery with an anonymous headstone to remind us that he was found
There are two fundamental reasons for this: the first is respect for the human
dignity of the dead body and its “sanctity” (inasmuch as he was a man who lived
in Christian times, and must have been baptised, and buried on holy ground); the
second is a matter of sanitary hygiene since it is a dead body that might
continue to decompose.
The very serious fact remains, however, that Torricella is about to lose the
chance of investigating further into its own history.
Let us remember that people who forget their own roots and their own historic
and cultural identity are people without a future, destined to be preyed upon by
every type of tyranny both internal and external.
La Mummia di Torricella Peligna, a
recent scientific study of the mummy.
Translation courtesy of
Dr. Marion Apley Porreca
© Amici di Torricella No
11 June 1991 page 7