Mount Carmel cemetery is renowned as the final resting place for many of the bishops and archbishops of Chicago, and a large collection of well known gangsters, including Al Capone, yet one of the most popular and memorable graves at the cemetery belongs to housewife Julia Buccola Petta, who died in childbirth in 1921 at the age of 29.
Following her death, Julia was buried, wearing her wedding dress, along with her baby at Mount Carmel. But soon after her death, her mother, Filomena, began having dreams in which Julia was telling her that she was still alive. Her mother’s troubling dreams continued for the next six years. Finally, she obtained permission to have Julia’s body exhumed and examined. Although the coffin had decayed somewhat, and body of her baby son had decomposed, Julia’s body was fresh and intact, with no signs of decay or decomposition.
The exact means by which Filomena secured permission to exhume her daughters body is not known, but it is known that the costs of disinterment and the new monument were paid for by Henry Buccola, Julia’s brother.
Julia’s grave marker features a small photograph of her in her wedding dress, and a large statue of her, based on that photograph. A photo of Julia taken by her mother after her exhumation, six years after her death, also appears on the monument. The photo shows a young woman resting peacefully in the mud-caked coffin, her arms folded in front of her. Her body appears to be perfectly preserved, with no signs of discoloration or decay.
Some suggest friction existed between Mrs. Buccola and Julia’s husband, Matthew, who remarried around the time of the disinterment as it’s notable that Julia’s married name appears nowhere on the monument, nor that of her stillborn child. Those present at her exhumation reportedly touched Julia’s skin, and said it was still soft, and her cheeks were still rosy red.
But the story of “The Italian Bride” doesn’t end there. There have been many reports of a ghostly figure of a woman wandering around in the cemetery near Julia’s grave, wearing a flowing white wedding dress.
Julia’s grave is close to the cemetery entrance on Harrison Street, and passing motorists have reported seeing the figure in the cemetery at night. One story claims that a small boy was accidentally left behind at the cemetery by his family. When they returned to look for him, they found him holding the hand of a woman in a flowing white gown, who was leading him back to them. When the boy reached his family, the woman disappeared.
By Paul Middleton, source: Ghosts, the paranormal, myths and legends