Lady of Barfüsser Church
Human Mummy
Biographical Information
Name(s) Anna Catharina Bischoff
Age 68
Sex f
Status high
Culture Swiss
Date(s) 1719-1787
Site Barfüsser Church in Basel
Current Location
Catalog #
The body was found in 1975, during the renovation of the Barfüsser Church in Basel, Switzerland. She was buried in front of the church's altar; her remains showed she was well-fed and elegantly dressed, indicating a wealthy woman. There was no gravestone, so her identity was a mystery.


It is speculated that a reason for its preservation is that it contained a high level of mercury. Based on the amount of mercury in her remains it is thought she suffered from syphilis, which researchers believe she picked up while caring for others with the sexually transmitted disease. Mercury then was a common treatment for syphilis. It was the mercury that was likely responsible for her death in 1787 at the age of 68


Basel's Natural History Museum perfomed DNA tests, DNA was extracted from the mummy's toe, and the body was identified as Anna Catharina Bischoff, a pastor’s wife from a prominent Basel family who died in 1787 at the age of 68. Her identity was established with 99.8 percent certainty. Bischoff's two surviving daughters, one of them did not have children of her own, and the other daughter, Anna Katharina Gernler, who was a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of British Prim Minister Boris Johnson.

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