A Catholic nun named Sister Wilhemina Lancaster has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to a tiny rural Missouri town. Though there is a caveat. She went away in 2019, so far.
According to the Catholic News Agency, Sister Wilhemina Lancaster of the Most Holy Rosary, OSB, died on May 29, 2019, at the age of 95, and her body has barely degenerated since then.
When the remains of Lancaster were taken into their chapel by nuns from the Mary, Queen of Apostles Monastery in Gower, Missouri, the startling discovery was made.
“We were told by cemetery personnel to expect just bones,” one sister explained.
But they were startled to see a body that was almost entirely unharmed. After she went away, Sister Wilhemina was simply buried in a wooden casket without being embalmed.
The only part of Sister Wilhemina’s body still there that had been harmed by the casket’s split was a layer of mildew.
“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.”
The “incorruptible saints” have seen the afterlife and the bodily resurrection, according to Catholic tradition. They are referred to as incorruptibles because their bodies exhibit little to no evidence of deterioration even years after death.
The absence of degradation also represents a link to Christ.
More than a hundred of the cases of incorruptible remains that have been documented—roughly several hundred—have been canonized or beatified. In a statement, the Diocese of Kanas City-St. Joseph 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.”
The sisters not only discovered Sister Wilhemina’s undamaged bones but also that the items she was buried with, such as her dress, were in “remarkably 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.”
The sisters made a wax mask of Sister Wilhemina’s face and hands after removing the “mask of thick mold” from her face. The preservation procedure and air exposure caused some mild degeneration in the corpse, but overall it was unharmed.
Since Sister Wilhemina’s discovery, thousands of people have visited the modest hamlet to pay their respects. Over the Memorial Day weekend, between ten and fifteen thousand individuals each day are anticipated, according to Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish.
Sister Wilhemina’s body was placed in a glass case near to the chapel’s altar after being on display for a number of days.
Many consider it to be a miracle. Some contest it. How do you feel? Please share with us in the comments.