Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster's Body Encased in Glass to Protect From Thousands Flocking to Rural Missouri Town

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles shared a photo taken of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster during her lifetime.
The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles shared a photo taken of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster while she was alive.Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster was exhumed last month in perfect condition, despite being buried in a simple wooden coffin under moist clay four years prior.

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s barely decayed body has been placed in a glass enclosure for protection as thousands continue to make the pilgrimage to the Catholic monastery in rural Missouri to witness what many are calling a miracle from God.

Last month, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower, Missouri, exhumed the remains of Lancaster, the founder of the church, in order to build a shrine, church officials said in a statement.

They had expected only bones remaining of the nun who died at age 95, the statement read. Lancaster was buried in a simple wooden coffin without any embalming, and the ground in which she was buried is mostly comprised of moist clay, they said.

Instead, the nuns at the convent discovered “an intact body and a perfectly preserved religious habit,” according to the statement.

Since news of Lancaster’s body was shared online, the town of less than 2,000 has seen hundreds of people from around the country making the journey to the monastery to see and touch her body for themselves.

“I don’t know if she will be canonized a Saint or not but I do know how blessed we feel, my sister Valerie and I, that we were able to venerate her in person with our daughters,” a visitor to the site wrote on Facebook.

A woman who drove seven hours round-trip with her family said on Facebook, “This is possibly a once in a lifetime chance that we got to touch and be in the presence of the miraculously preserved remains of a beloved nun who may become a saint one day.”

The Memorial Day long weekend saw a spike in visitors, and authorities estimated about 10,000 to 15,000 people visited the site each day, the Clinton County Missouri Sheriff’s Office said in an update on Facebook.

“An army of volunteers and our local law enforcement have stepped forward to manage the crowds, and we are deeply grateful to each of them,” a statement from the monastery read.

In order to protect her remains from decay and damage, her body has now been placed in a glass shrine, so visitors will be able to see the body and take dirt from the grave but not touch her, in order to “protect the integrity of the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina to allow for a thorough investigation,” Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said in a statement.

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