Catholics celebrate 'miracle' as body of long-dead nun found 'incorrupt'

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster died at the age of 95 but 4 years later, her body seemingly hasn't decayed. This "incorruptibility" has in the past been seen as a sign of sainthood.

 A Catholic nun is seen praying (Illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A Catholic nun is seen praying (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The recently exhumed corpse of a nun in Missouri was found to seemingly be devoid of any signs of decay, sparking throngs of pilgrims to come to view the "incorrupt" body, the Catholic News Agency reported.

The corpse in question belongs to Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, a nun who founded the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, at the age of 70.

Lancaster passed away at the age of 95 on May 29, 2019, and her corpse was recently exhumed four years after her passing, per a long-standing tradition to move her remains inside the chapel. However, despite having been buried for four years in a wooden coffin and not being embalmed, Lancaster's corpse was seemingly intact and with no signs of decay, the news agency said.

No answers as to why body didn't decay

While the circumstances surrounding Lancaster's corpse have yet to be verified or understood, the Catholic Church is aware of it and is looking into the matter.

In a statement, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said it was working to conduct a thorough investigation.

 Christian prayer (Illustrative). (credit: Grant Whitty/Unsplash)
Christian prayer (Illustrative). (credit: Grant Whitty/Unsplash)

The diocese said that the case of a corpse not decaying, which the Catholics have dubbed "incorruptibility," has precedence in the faith and has been verified before – in fact, it is often seen as a sign that the deceased is worthy of being canonized as a saint.

However, the diocese added that cases of incorruptibility are very rare and there has yet to be any work for Lancaster to be canonized as a saint

Who was Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster?

Born to a Catholic family in Missouri, Lancaster supposedly had a mystical encounter with Jesus early in her life and would live out her life within the Christian clergy, the Catholic News Agency reported.

The order she founded would later gain fame for their adherence to Benedictine Rule and for making waves in the music scene for their hymn albums and Gregorian chant music.