La Pascualita, The Corpse Bride

Jan 16, 2017 4 comments

Peering out from behind the glass window of a small bridal shop in Chihuahua, Mexico, stands a tall, slender figure dressed in bridal costume. For close to ninety years, this unnervingly lifelike mannequin at La Popular —the bridal store— has been beguiling visitors from across America and Europe. The mannequin’s pallid skin, her veined hands, the wrinkles on her palms, and her worn out fingernails have people more than convinced that La Pascualita, as she is popularly known, is not a dummy but a perfectly preserved, embalmed corpse.

La Pascualita, or “Little Pascuala”, first appeared on the windows of this well-known bridal store on March 25, 1930. The mannequin’s wide-set glass eyes, real hair and blushing skin tones immediately struck passersby, including the store employees. It wasn’t long before someone noted the strikingly similarity between the mannequin and the recently deceased daughter of the store owner. The stage for the rumor was set.


Photo credit: Xavi Valero/Flickr

According to the tale, Pascuala Esparza, the store owner, had a beautiful daughter (her name is lost to history) who was set to marry her sweetheart. Tragically, on her wedding day, she was bit by a black widow spider and died. Pascuala Esparza was so distraught at losing her daughter, that she had her body preserved and mummified and placed in the window so that she could always be the bride in death that she could not be in life. As the rumor spread, locals became outraged and the owner began receiving abusive phone calls. Pascuala Esparza denied the allegation. La Pascualita was nothing but a very elaborate and well made mannequin, she said. But it was too late. Nobody believed her.

Over the years, the tale has become more and more fanciful, such as the nightly visits by a lovesick French magician who brings her back to life and the two of them then dances through the night, drinking and celebrating their short time together. Spooky tales of her gaze following customers around the store, or that she shifts position when no one is looking, are abound.

"Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat," said one shop worker. "Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she's a real person."

Perhaps, the store's present owner, Mario Gonzalez, loves to keep the legend alive. Twice a week, her outfits are changed —behind drawn curtains, as if to preserve her modesty. It is said that only a few close and trusted employees are allowed to dress and undress her. One employee who had seen her undressed believes “the body was not that of a mannequin.”

True believers leave flowers and candles outside the shop and other tributes. Among some, La Pascualita has achieved the status of a saint drawing a religious following. Miracles have been said to occur at her feet.

Mario Gonzalez enjoys the fame and the crowd La Pascualita brings to the store, and he intends to keep it that way. On the window behind which the mannequin stands, are proudly displayed the words "La Casa De Pascualita”, or "The Home of La Pascualita."

When asked whether the bride is really a mummy, he just smiled and shook his head. "Is it true? A lot of people believe it is, but I really couldn't say."


Photo credit: Ripley’s Believe it or Not


Photo credit: Ripley’s Believe it or Not


Photo credit: Ripley’s Believe it or Not


Photo credit: unknown

Sources: Road Trippers / Slightly Warped / Banderas News / A Sketch Of The Past


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