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Thousands travel to remote area in Missouri to see intact remains of a nun who passed away in 2019 at 95

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In a small town in Missouri, something extraordinary happened. Sister Wilhemina Lancaster, a Catholic nun, passed away in 2019 at the age of 95. But what’s drawing thousands to this quiet rural place is the astonishing condition of her body.

Sister Wilhemina, part of the Most Holy Rosary order, was known for her devout life. After her death, her body was placed in a simple wooden casket, without any special preservation methods.

Thousands travel to remote area in Missouri to see intact remains of a nun who passed away in 2019 at 95
Credit: National Catholic Register

Recently, when her fellow nuns moved her remains to a chapel, they made a surprising discovery. Instead of finding just bones, as they expected, they saw Sister Wilhemina’s body almost perfectly intact.

This rare phenomenon, where a body shows little to no decay years after death, is known in Catholic tradition as ‘incorruptibility’. It’s seen as a sign of a person’s holiness and closeness to Christ. There are several hundred cases of such ‘incorruptible’ bodies, with many of them being recognized as saints by the Church.

The sisters at the monastery were amazed to see not only Sister Wilhemina’s body but also her clothes and other items with her in remarkable condition. Her religious habit, made of natural fibers, was completely preserved, while other materials in the coffin had deteriorated.

Thousands travel to remote area in Missouri to see intact remains of a nun who passed away in 2019 at 95
A pilgrim venerates the incorrupt body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, on May 20, 2023. Lancaster was recently exhumed in Gower, Missouri. | Credit: Kelsey Wicks/CNA

In response to this discovery, the sisters cleaned Sister Wilhemina’s face and created a wax mask for her face and hands. Although there was some damage due to preservation efforts and exposure to air, her body remained largely intact.

This unexpected event has attracted a lot of attention. Thousands are visiting the town to see Sister Wilhemina’s preserved body, now displayed in a glass case in the chapel. It’s become a source of hope and faith for many. While some consider it a miracle, others are unsure what to make of it. What’s your opinion on this? Share your thoughts in the comments.