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OAN’s Roy Francis
1:28 PM – Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Hundreds of people have traveled to Missouri to a convent that recently exhumed the remains of its founder which showed nearly no signs of decomposition four years after her death.
Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster had died in 2019 at the age of 95, she was then entombed in the outdoor convent cemetery in Gower, Missouri. The Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles exhumed her wooden coffin on May 18th in order to relocate her in their chapel when the discovery was made.
Many Catholics believe that Lancaster could be a modern-day saint due to the lack of decay, which they consider a miracle.
“It just felt like the presence of God was there as soon as I went into the monastery. It’s a true miracle. I really think that,” Rita Cospelich told FOX4. “God works in strange ways with miracles.”
According to the Catholicism, a body that resists decay after death is considered “incorrupt,” and according to the Catholic News Agency, “incorruptible saints give witness to the truth of the resurrection of the body and the life that is to come.”
According to Bishop Johnston, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the process to pursue the cause for sainthood has not been initiated yet.
“Bishop Johnston is working to establish a thorough process for understanding the nature of the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains,” a statement from the Diocese read. “Incorruptibility has been verified in the past, but it is very rare. There is a well-established process to pursue the cause for sainthood, but that has not been initiated in this case yet.”
The process to investigate sainthood is only allowed to begin five years after a person’s death, therefore Lancaster has not yet reached the required minimum number of years.
Samuel Dawson, who had visited from Kansas City with his son, said that it was “very peaceful. Just very reverent.”
“It was pretty amazing,” he said. “It was very peaceful. Just very reverent.”
Dawson added that the nuns “wanted to make her accessible to the public … because in real life, she was always accessible to people.”
The monastery said that Lancaster’s remains will be placed in a glass shrine, where visitors will be able to see her body and collect dirt from her grave. However, when she is placed in the glass shrine, visitors will no longer be able to touch her.
However, some are skeptical of what many are calling a miracle. According to Rebecca George, an anthropology instructor at Western Carolina University in North Carolina, human remains decay at different rates depending on the different variables, and that lack of decomposition isn’t as rare as many believe.
“Typically, when we bury people, we don’t exhume them. We don’t get to look at them a couple years out,” George said. “With 100 years, there might be nothing left. But when you’ve got just a few years out, this is not unexpected.”
When she was 13, Mary Elizabeth Lancaster wrote to the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore asking for permission to join. However, according to the Catholic News Agency, “she was too young so she had to wait a little bit longer.”
She had later taken on the name Wilhelmina when took her vows. At 70-years-old, she founded the order of sisters who are well known for their chart-topping Gregorian chant and classic Catholic hymn albums.
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