A perplexing and unexplainable mystery has captured the attention of many as the exhumed body of a nun in Missouri was discovered completely intact, nearly four years after her passing.
Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, who established the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles order in 1995, passed away on May 29, 2019. Renowned for their chants, manual labor, and devotion to prayer, the order gained recognition for its spiritual practices.
In 2023, following tradition for founding members, the order decided to relocate Sister Wilhelmina’s body to its final resting place within the monastery chapel. However, what they encountered defied expectations. Rather than a decomposed body, the abbess and sisters were astonished to find Sister Wilhelmina’s body in an incorrupt and intact state, despite the absence of embalming.
Mother Cecilia, OSB, the current abbess of the community, expressed her astonishment, stating, “We think she is the first African American woman to be found incorrupt.” She described the remarkable sight of a fully preserved foot and recounted her disbelief upon first witnessing it.
Reports indicate that Sister Wilhelmina’s body exhibited a thin layer of mold caused by condensation within the cracked wooden coffin.
While some regard this occurrence as a potential miracle, many within the Catholic faith believe that Sister Wilhelmina’s incorrupt state merits her consideration for sainthood. Although the process of canonization has not yet been initiated, the diocese has initiated an investigation into the remains, acknowledging the widespread interest and important questions surrounding them.
“The condition of the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster has understandably generated widespread interest and raised important questions,” the diocese stated in an online message. “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 diocese also emphasized that while incorruptibility is rare, it is not unprecedented. Nevertheless, numerous individuals have flocked to the rural Missouri town to witness Sister Wilhelmina’s remains firsthand.
Sister Wilhelmina, who grew up in St. Louis and felt the calling to become a nun at a young age, embarked on her journey of religious devotion in 1941 at the age of 13. She chose the name “Wilhelmina” as a tribute to her former pastor, who had encouraged her pursuit of a religious vocation.
After departing from the Oblate Sisters of Providence, she established her own order. Addressing those who questioned her decision, Sister Wilhelmina previously stated, “To those who say that my leaving my old community to found a new one doesn’t make sense, I reply that it is understandable only in the life of faith.”
While the official cause of her peaceful passing remains undisclosed, Sister Wilhelmina’s parting words, as documented by the Catholic Key, were, “May God have mercy on me. I trust in the mercy of God.” This story has been reported from Los Angeles.