Thousands have been flocking to a small rural town in Missouri to visit a Catholic nun named Sister Wilhemina Lancaster. But there’s a catch. She’s been dead since 2019.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Sister Wilhemina Lancaster of the Most Holy Rosary, OSB died May 29, 2019 age 95, and since then her body has decayed very little.
The startling discovery was only made recently when Sisters from Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles Monastery in Gower, Missouri moved Lancaster’s body into their chapel.
“We were told by cemetery personnel to expect just bones,” one sister told Newsweek.
However, to their surprise they found a nearly perfectly intact body.
Since Sister Wilhemina was not embalmed following her death nor was she placed in anything more than a wooden casket. A layer of mold had grown due to a crack in the casket, but beyond that Sister Wilhemina’s body was nearly intact.
“I thought I saw a completely full, intact foot and I said, ‘I didn’t just see that,’” Mother Cecilia, OSB, the current abbess said. “So I looked again more carefully.”
Everyone was in shock.
“Right now we need hope. We need it. Our Lord knows that. And she was such a testament to hope. And faith. And trust.”
According to Catholic tradition, “incorruptible saints” have witnessed the resurrection of the body and life after death. They are called incorruptible because years after death their bodies show little to no signs of decay.
The lack of decay also symbolizes a closeness to Christ.
There are several hundred documented cases of incorruptible bodies, with more than one hundred that have been beatified or canonized.
In a statement from the Diocese of Kanas City-St. Joseph, the church acknowledged the “widespread interest” and inevitable “important questions.”
“At the same time, it is important to protect the integrity of the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina to allow for a thorough investigation.”
Not only did the sisters find Sister Wilhemina’s body intact, but her clothes and items she was buried with were in “remarkable preserved condition.”
“Even more remarkable was the complete preservation of her holy habit, made from natural fibers, for which she fought so vigorously throughout her religious life. They synthetic veil was perfectly intact, while the lining of the coffin, made of similar material, was completely deteriorated and gone.”
Unsure of what to do next, the sisters cleaned the “mask of thick mold” off Sister Wilhemina’s face then created a wax mask of her face and hands. The preservation process as well as exposure to air caused some damage, but the body remained relatively intact.
Since the discovery thousands of people have made the voyage to the rural town to pay their respects to Sister Wilhemina. Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish told KCTV they expected anywhere from 10 to 15,000 people every day over the Memorial Day weekend.
After remaining on display for several days, Sister Wilhemina’s body was enclosed in a glass case near the chapel’s altar.
Many believe it’s a miracle. Some question it. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.