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Haunted

The Legend of Recoleta’s Rufina Cambacérès

posted: 07/25/16
by: Kelly McClure
Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires
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Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires
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The life of Rufina Cambaceres was said to have been a luxurious one, although peppered with sorrow. Daughter to Eugenio Cambaceres, a writer, politician, and heir to a cattle fortune, Rufina suffered her first major emotional blow at the young age of four when her father passed away from tuberculosis. At nineteen, she was stricken by an unexpected illness of her own and suffered a mysterious heart attack, collapsing on her floor while preparing to leave for an evening of socializing.

The effects of the heart attack snuffed the brightly burning flame of Rufina, in the prime of her life, and three doctors gathered at the scene to pronounce her dead. A funeral service was held for her and her coffin was placed in a lavish mausoleum within a cemetery housing the remains of some of the richest and most famous historical figures of the ages, one of which is Eva Peron. This is where the story takes an eerie turn.

Shortly after the funeral service a groundskeeper was said to have discovered that Rufina's coffin was not where it was originally placed within the mausoleum and that the lid was damaged. Upon opening the lid to inspect the coffin's contents, fearing that grave robbers had gotten to Rufina, he was terrified to find her also out of place within the coffin with bruises on her face and hands from trying to claw her way out. Everyone was puzzled by this but doctors eventually concluded that she had not actually suffered a heart attack but "catalepsy," which is a trance like seizure that brings with it a loss of consciousness and rigidity of the body.

Wooden coffin in overgrown crypt in Recoleta
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Wooden coffin in open crypt overgrown with weeds in Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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Being that this happened in 1902 there's no one left to ask about it, and the validity of the tale has been challenged through the years, but stranger things have happened. The Recoleta Cemetery is listed as one of Argentina's top five most haunted locations and Rufina's ghost is said to wander around opening other coffins to make sure what happened to her doesn't happen to anyone else.