Pascualita: How Much is that Corpse Bride in the Window?

 In downtown Chihuahua, Mexico a mannequin, which has been on display in the window at the “La Popular” bridal shop for over 75 years, is rumored to be an impeccably embalmed corpse. It is said that the original owner of the store, Pascuala Esparza, was a talented designer and seamstress. She created gorgeous gowns in her bridal boutique so of course, when her daughter, Pascualita, was to be married, Pascuala Esparza made her the dress of her dreams. Sadly, on the day of Pascualita’s wedding, she was bitten by a black widow spider and died before she could marry her intended. Pascuala was devastated by her daughter’s sudden death and, after having the body embalmed, decided to dress Pascualita in her wedding gown. She displayed her body in the window of “La Popular” on March 25, 1930 and it has remained there ever since.

This caused quite a bit of uproar from residents of Chihuahua who weren’t too thrilled knowing they would be walking past the corpse of a young woman on a regular basis. Eventually, most citizens became used to Pascualita staring at them through the window as they strolled around downtown. Som revel in the presence of this local oddity and view her as a sort of landmark which brings in a flock of tourists from Europe, South America and the United States each year. This story however, may be entirely, or at least partially legend. Many older residents of the area swear the body is truly that of the deceased Pascualita Esparza but just as many claim that shortly after the town went into an uproar over her display in the window, Pascuala made a statement that the body was not her deceased daughter. Obviously, the most logical theory is that Pascualita is a very life-like mannequin that was incredibly impressive for the time period; Perhaps Pascuala started an itty bitty rumor in an attempt to draw in customers to the store. One thing which keeps people questioning the authenticity of Pascualita is the small, lifelike and possibly decomposition related-imperfections such as the deep folds of her palm.

 La Popular employee Sonia Burciaga is the lucky lady who has been bestowed with the task of changing the dress on the questionable corpse twice a week. Sonia confessed, “Everytime I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat. Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she’s a real person.”

 You may still be wondering how a body that has been dead and on display for over 75 rears has not begun to decompose. While the exact method of preservation in the hypothetical case of Pascualita remains a mystery, avoiding decomposition for an expanded period of time is not impossible. Incorruptible corpses, bodies that do not decay, were considered by the Catholic Church to be a miracle up until quite recently when it was discovered that the prevention of decomposition was caused by conditions within the tomb in which the body was laid to rest. These “Incorruptible” bodies did not appear to decompose for several decades and when they did, it was usually due to relocation of the corpse. The reason the bodies which have been moved and put on display still have not decomposed is due in part to regular “treatments” the bodies undergo to maintain the natural preservation. It is possible that somehow, with the aid of her environment, Pascualita’s body was able to avoid decomposition through a mixture of artificial and natural embalming. Her waxy skin tone is almost identical to the flesh of Incorruptible corpses. Some of the more wild claims about the body of Pascualita are that her eyes follow you around the store, she changes positions at night and there are even stories that a French magician visits the store at night, brings Pascualita to life and takes her out on the town. Whether you believe Pascualita is an incredibly life-like mannequin or a real dead body, I think we can all agree on one thing: Pascualita is not dating a mysterious French magician.

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If you enjoyed this article, you may also like Pray the Decay Away: Incorruptible Corpses and Other Forms of Natural Postmortem Preservation, Everybody Poops: The Post-Mortem Edition, Rasputin’s Pickled Penis on Public Display in St. PetersburgThe Anguished Man: Painted in Artist’s Blood Before Suicide and Is “Kicking the Bucket” For Catholics Only?

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