© Amici di Torricella                                                                                                                               

Farewell 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 beneath the Church.
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.


Note: See 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