Nun whose body shows little decay since 2019 death draws hundreds to rural Missouri

Only a few individuals consider that the absence of expression in certain people signifies holiness in Catholicism. It is said that in 2019, the body of a nun, whose decomposition had barely begun, was seen by others as a sign of holiness. This week, hundreds of people flocked to a small town in Missouri to witness this.

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster was exhumed in April, according to a statement from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower, Missouri.

The nuns had been preparing for the reinterment of the remains of our beloved foundress, Sister Wilhelmina, and the addition of a shrine for St. Joseph.

Four years prior, devoid of any preservation treatment, she was laid to rest in a plain wooden casket. The individuals were informed to anticipate solely skeletal remains upon excavating Lancaster.

The nuns had discovered a perfectly preserved religious habit and an intact body instead of the news spreading like wildfire as stated, and someone publicly posted a private email without the intention of making it known to the public.

Local law enforcement and volunteers have assisted in managing the crowds in the town, as people from all over the country have visited Lancaster to experience its charm. Approximately 1,800 individuals have had the opportunity to see and touch the beauty of this town.

Last week, Samuel Dawson, who practices Catholicism and traveled from Kansas City with his son, expressed, “It was quite astounding. It was incredibly serene. Simply very respectful.”

Dawson mentioned that there were several hundred individuals present during his visit and that he observed numerous vehicles from outside the state.

“Dawson said that the nuns wanted to make her life in the real world accessible to the public, because she was always accessible to people. Visitors were allowed to touch her.”

The monastery stated that on Monday, her remains will be placed in a transparent sanctuary within their church. Although visitors will still have the opportunity to view her body and collect soil from her burial site, physical contact with her will not be permitted.

The Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese also issued a statement.

The diocese expressed, “The state of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s remains has understandably sparked widespread curiosity and raised significant inquiries. Simultaneously, it is crucial to safeguard the dignity of Sister Wilhelmina’s physical remains in order to facilitate a comprehensive examination.”

“The diocese has been added, however, the process to pursue the cause for sainthood has not yet been initiated. Although it is very rare, incorruptibility has been verified in the past.”

Lancaster, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, also stated that they would initiate the process of sainthood, which necessitates a minimum of five years since the individual’s passing has not yet been attained.

Rebecca George, an anthropology instructor at Western Carolina University in North Carolina, said that decomposition of the body’s lack might be rare, as people are expecting.

George stated that if given permission, the corpses could remain well-preserved for numerous years. The process of “mummification” is a regular occurrence at the university’s facility, specifically for bodies that have not been embalmed.

According to her, coffins and garments also aid in the preservation of corpses.

George remarked, “It’s not surprising to see this happening when you’ve only been away for a short period of time. However, if we wait for 100 years, there might be absolutely nothing remaining. We don’t have the opportunity to observe them a few years after burial. Generally, we do not dig them up.”