RITTA & CHRISTINA – Early Conjoined Twins

Ritta and Christina Parodi are likely the best documented case of conjoined twining in the early 19th century. The details of their life and death, in the form of detailed autopsy reports, are well known. Their life was remarkably short, due in part to their popularity.

The twins were born in Sassare, Sardina on March 3, 1829 and were the last in a family of eight. The Parodis were quite poor, but upon the birth of the twins they spent their savings on a trip to France, with the assumption that doctors and naturalists would scramble to study the twins. However, upon arriving in France, the family had no idea of how to promote the twins and became increasingly destitute. They initially tried to display the twins publicly but were constantly denied by city officials. Eventually word did get out and physicians came to them. Unfortunately, constant observation interrupted the twins sleep and exposed them to chills. Ritta, who was sickly since birth and steadily growing weaker, quietly passed on November 23, 1829 while suckling from their mother. Christina, who up to that point had been both healthy and alert, died only moments later. They had lived for only eight months.

The pair was distinct from the shoulders up. But below the navel they shared one set of genitals, one anus, on pelvis and one set of legs. During autopsy, it was revealed that the viscera of the pair were transposed to each other. The viscera – heart included – formed mirror images of each other. It was likely this ‘backwards heart’ that caused Ritta to be so sick and weakly.

The twins’ skeleton as well as a plaster cast of their body is currently in the possession of the Natural History Museum in Paris. However, neither is currently on display.

Excerpts of the above taken from the work of Armand Marie Leroi and his book Mutants.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

7 Comments

  • Reply July 15, 2009

    Mamimi

    they seemed like they’d have been so cute if they’d only made it…

  • Reply March 18, 2010

    Darla Jon

    hello I am trying to find out about a great Aunt Mabel Williams my sister said Our granny told her she was in the Cetlin Wilson Show and her husband threw knives at her until she died. She died in her twenties.
    Does any one know about this or have any pictures? Thanks for any info!

  • Reply July 17, 2011

    Michelle Jesse

    What’s the difference between siamese twins and conjoined twins? I mean besides the fancy little name.

  • Reply October 20, 2011

    beatlemia

    Well, Siamese twins are from Siam (now Taiwan) and conjoined are twins which did not fully separate before continuing to develop.

    • Reply October 5, 2012

      weird

      now Thailand lol

  • Reply November 2, 2011

    Fabio Bianchi

    Rita and Cristina Parodi were born in Sassari, Kingdom of Sardinia on March 3, 1829 (at the time Italy did not existed yet)

    Kudos to you for the beautiful and informative work, Mr. Pednaud!

  • Reply October 5, 2012

    weird

    Siam is now Thailand not Taiwan lol

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