Ghostly Spotlight: The Italian Bride

Ghostly Spotlight: The Italian Bride

The Italian Bride, Julia Buccola-Petta, died in 1921 during the birth of her first child. She married young to an Italian boy from her neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. Julia’s mother, Filomena, disapproved of the boy’s family and she blamed him for her death. She didn’t allow Julia to be buried in her husband’s family’s plot. Instead, she was laid to rest, with her stillborn child in her arms, in the Buccola family site at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Illinois. Julia was buried in her white wedding gown, following the Italian tradition for women who die during childbirth.

Shortly after Julia’s death, her mother experienced horrible nightmares about her daughter trying to scratch and claw her way out of her grave. ┬áThis continued for six long years until Filomena was finally allowed to exhume the grave.

The Italian Bride's corpse
The Italian Bride’s corpse

When they opened the casket, they were surprised by Julia’s corpse. It had not decayed. She still had pale, supple flesh with no signs of deterioration. The Buccola family took this as a sign and collected enough money to have a monument made to Julia. Two pictures remain on the gravestone: a picture of her in a wedding dress; and, a picture of her corpse on the day they opened her casket.

Today, Julia still wanders the cemetery. She’s not the type of spirit to scare you. Julia’s too polite for that. She does walk about the cemetery, day or night, just observing the people who come to mourn their loved ones. If it’s raining, Julia always looks dry. There’s no sign of her stillborn child.

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