Myths & Legends

The mystery of Julia Petta’s imperishable body

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Julia Petta died in 1921 during childbirth and her baby never survived her mother’s passing died too. Both were buried in the same coffin at the cemetery in Chicago. But a few years later Julia’s mother began to see strange dreams in which Julia said she was alive.

Mount Carmel Cemetery is known as the place of the last rest of many bishops and archbishops of Chicago, as well as a large number of gangsters, including Al Capone. However, one of the most popular and memorable graves in this cemetery belongs to the modest housewife of Italian origin Julia Buccola Petta.

The young woman died during childbirth in 1921 at the age of 29. Her child did not survive and was buried in the same coffin. Julia was placed reverently in a casket in a beautiful white wedding dress like in a tombstone, so later she got the nickname Italian bride.

After Julia’s funeral, her family moved to Los Angeles 2,000 miles from the graveyard. Five years passed and suddenly Julia’s mother, Philomena began to see the same recurring dream Julia came to her and said she was still alive.

These dreams have been pursuing Philomena for a whole year, after which she couldn’t stand any more. The grieving mother returned to Chicago and asked that her daughter’s body be exhumed. She suspected that Julia could have been buried alive and that her daughter’s restless ghost would stop coming to her in her dreams if she checked her grave.

Philomena achieved what she wanted and Julia’s casket was dug up. After six years, it has been quite damaged outside. But when the cover was removed from the coffin, they saw Julia’s body inside. Her son looked exactly as he had appeared on the day of her passing. The corpse of her daughter looked so fresh as if it was buried just yesterday. There were no signs of decomposition, or even blue (corpse) spots on it.

At the same time, the body of her stillborn son, who was wrapped in a blanket and lay next to Julia’s body, had decayed to the state of the skeleton.

The mother was so shocked to see her daughter in such perfect composure that she took a photo of Julia in a coffin, which was then placed on a grave monument.

Several more people were present during the exhumation. They wanted to make sure that Julia was dead rather than sleeping soundly (as strange as it may sound). They touched her face and hands and then reported that the skin was soft and Julia’s cheeks were pink, not deadly pale.

Has Julia Petta’s body been determined on? It is known that she was found dead after all, presumably the doctor certified it, and then it was decided to rebury the coffin and body. At the same time, it remained beyond understanding why Julia looked imperishable six years after her death.

Some experts suggested Julia’s body wasn’t decomposed due to a special soil type in this cemetery place, others believe Julia Petta was most likely to be very well embalmed. It was not a rare occurrence in those years, but if it were done, Julie’s mother would probably know about it.

The most distinctive folk version says that Julia Petta was very devout and after her death became holy. Therefore, I prayed that the Lord would not let her body decompose. Until now, Julia’s body has never been exhumed again and it is unknown what condition it is now in.

However, even if Philomena’s dreams are taken for the consequences of grief from her daughter’s death, and Julia’s perfect body is a result of good embalming, something strange is still happening with this grave. After Julia Petta’s funeral, they often saw a ghostly woman wearing a white dress.

Most often she was seen wandering between graves near her own grave. This ghostly silhouette was seen by night drivers driving along Harrison Street. Julia’s grave is near the entrance to the cemetery that this street passes by.

And there’s a story about a little boy. This boy was accidentally forgotten in the cemetery after his family’s funeral, and when they remembered him and returned to the cemeteries, they saw a woman in a white dress walking along the road and leading the child by the hand. When the woman reached the family and handed them the boy, she disappeared right before their eyes.

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