The Bride in the Mist




questa fotografia

presa dopo 6 anni morta



On moonless nights when there is a gentle rain, there have been reports in the Mount Carmel Cemetery at Hillside, Illinois, of a mist with a faint light emanating from the haze. Inside the mist is the apparition of a bride hovering above the ground—always looking downward as if she has lost something—or someone. Upon investigation the visage is almost always spotted near the gravesite of Julia Buccola Petta and her stillborn son. Julia Petta is legend here, known simply as the Italian Bride. Her macabre story is one of heartbreaking sadness and mystery.

The story starts in 1909, when Enrique Buccola immigrates to Chicago to join his brother, Giuseppe from Palermo, Italy. Both brothers work in the fashion industry—Henry as a tailor and Joseph as a clothing designer.

Because of the brothers’ success, they bring over other members of the family to join them. Rosalia was the first sister to join them. In 1913, their mother, Filomena and their sister, Julia, immigrate to America, too.

On June 6, 1920, Julia married Matthew Petta at the Holy Rosary Parish. Nine months later, on March 17, 1921, Julia died giving birth to a stillborn son, Flippo. Julia was buried in her wedding dress with her son in her arms. Her mother, Filomena, was beside herself with grief.

Filomena began having dreams that her daughter was still alive. The dreams went on and were so vivid and real to her that after six years, she mustered the courage to have her daughter’s body exhumed so she could see once and for all that the dreams were not real—that Julia and her son had died.

The casket was opened and to the surprise of everyone, Julia’s body was nearly as she was buried—still with rose-colored cheeks and soft supple skin except where her son lay. He had decomposed. Many believed that Julia’s preserved body was a sign that she was a saint.

To honor her daughter, Filomena talked one of her sons into paying what was reported to be an astronomical sum at the time for an elaborate monument to be sculpted in Julia’s likeness. Julia stands atop the base in the wedding dress she had been married in and eventually buried in.


On the face of the stone is a porcelain photograph of Julia not only in the dress, after which the sculpture was modeled, but also a porcelain photograph of Julia on the day her body was exhumed after six years of being entombed.


The stone has the inscription:



questa fotografia

presa dopo 6 anni morta


Of note, is the fact that Julia’s married name, Petta, is not mentioned on the gravestone. Also the epitaph, written in Italian, reads:

questa fotografia

presa dopo 6 anni morta

Which translates roughly into English as:

this photograph was

taken 6 years after she died

The story became a local sensation. It was not long after that people told stories of seeing the apparition of the bride in the flowing white wedding gown in the cemetery. Even to this day, there are reports of the bride in the mist.


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1 Response to The Bride in the Mist

  1. Sarah McKinzie says:

    Heartbreaking story, but thank your sharing!

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