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Investigation Underway After Nun’s Body Found Uncorrupted — Four Years After Her Death

The body of a Benedictine nun has remained uncorrupted for four years following her burial.

Leaders in the Catholic Church contacted Rome and commissioned an investigation into the situation after the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster were exhumed last week.

Lancaster’s corpse appears to show no signs of degradation or rotting despite having been buried in 2019 — a phenomenon considered a possible sign of sainthood in Catholicism.

Her body was not embalmed before her burial and her casket was made of simple wood without an exterior layer.

David Hess associate professor in the Salt Lake Community College mortuary science department told Catholic News Agency that the deceased nun’s pristine condition is hard to explain.

“If the body was not embalmed, and it was still intact after four years, that one kind of throws me,” he told CNA. “I would have expected the body to be decomposed, maybe not all the way down to bone, but at least severely decomposed.”

Bishop Vann Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released a statement on the investigation into Lancaster’s condition.

The bishop urged prayer and sobriety as the Catholic Church begins looking into the circumstances.

“The condition of the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster has understandably generated widespread interest and raised important questions,” said the prelate. “At the same time, it is important to protect the integrity of the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina to allow for a thorough investigation.”

He continued, “I invite all the faithful to continue praying during this time of investigation for God’s will in the lives of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; for all women religious; and all the baptized in our common vocation to holiness, with hope and trust in the Lord.”

The deceased nun’s body has been on open-air display for visitations and veneration by Catholic pilgrims.

Lancaster was the founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles.

Her order plans to hold a precession in her honor and enclose the body in a glass case to better accommodate pilgrims making their way to the monastery in Gower, Missouri.

  • Scurvydog says:

    Why did they dig her up? Sounds fishy to me. They bury a nun that they say wasn’t embalmed, and dig her up four years later to see what she looks like? Now, they have a brand new saint to worship and pray to because of the “miracle” of no decomposition. Where are all the scientists? If she was as free from bacteria when she was alive as she appears to be now, how did she die to start with?

    • Anne Bonney says:

      Someone commented above that the nuns wanted her buried under the altar, customary I suppose, as the nun was the founder of the order. They saw a crack in the wooden coffin, which is possible, as the earth is always shifting (i.e., houses settling). It was my belief that a dead person must be embalmed before internment. Even cremated bodies must be in a special box (lead-lined?) to prevent contamination leaking through the ground. This nun was not embalmed and buried in a wooden box, which is probably correct for nuns. This needs to be investigated thoroughly before the Catholics insist on “sainthood” being proclaimed. Although as a Southern Baptist, and not Catholic, God, in whom I believe, does work in mysterious ways.

  • Mjrtoo says:

    Man, if only the Catholics venerated Jesus as much as their people.

    • De says:

      Great point!! Now it’s up to the bishops to determine whether she is up for saint hood. I guess this is a big deal now. Not to be crude, but yes why was she dug up? This is kind of a insult to father GOD AND JESUS WHO AROSE FROM THE DEAD!

      • Patty Zimmerman says:

        Someone explained why–it was to remove the coffin and put it under the altar. Something that was done in the past. If she is to be eligible for Sainthood she must have performed miracles. I wonder what stories the Sister has in her past that will qualify her.

  • Louis Galmarini says:

    Why was the body dug up in the first place?

    Also, “The bishop urged prayer and sobriety as the Catholic Church begins looking into the circumstances”.

    Is the ‘bishop’ inferring those doing the investigating don’t pray and or alcoholics? js.

  • Louis Galmarini says:

    First off: It is LAW that ALL deceased bodies will be buried w/i 72 hours, OR be processed by embalmment.
    Second: By ‘church law’, there has to be CREDIBLE EVIDENCE she performed (at least) one miracle to be ‘sainted’.
    Third: Why wasn’t she placed under the alter to begin with?

    As usual w/ the Catholic ‘church’, there’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS more questions than answers. They’re masters at cloak-and-dagger game(s), always making up or changing the ‘rules’ as they go to meet whatever agenda is at hand.

    I’m proud to say I’ve been a ‘recovering Catholic’ for over 50 years, now. Never needed the churches ‘permission’ nor any ‘priest/Monsignors’ signature on a piece of paper to get along in life. All the rules w/ no justification for ANY of them. Glad I was smart enough at 22 to purge them out of my life forever.

    • sandy^ says:

      Churches have removed themselves from what Christ would have been found doing. “You will know my people by their actions (fruits)” Matt. 7:15–20 I believe if you want to find God, read the Bible, and talk to Him while sitting in nature. Only God can forgive you from sin and help you to redemption. Never could understand the Father Priest Forgive me thing. Our spiritual life is us and God. Jesus sent to die for us in order that we can live. Jesus was a bridge, showing us how our personal relationship with God should go. Thus, why you will see Him talking to His Father, “They know not what they do” In the end, we do not die alone, we die with God.

  • sandy^ says:

    I am not going to judge the nun. This church is far from Christ. They meet in a snake room, and you can see the ceiling resembles a snake. All the scandals with nuns some hinted at being pregnant, babies put where? Not to mention the child stuff over the years. The church has dark secrets. Who would ever think Christ would have sat in golden churches drinking out of golden goblets. Same for these new super churches with the hot music and entertainments. Churches have removed themselves from what Christ would have been found doing. “You will know my people by their actions (fruits)” Matt. 7:15–20

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