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Hundreds of people are flocking to the small town of Gower, Missouri, to see the body of a nun who died in 2019 and was recently exhumed, showing no visible signs of decomposition. The founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s body was being moved to its final resting place inside the monastery chapel.
According to the Catholic News Agency, the practice is a long-standing custom to place the remains of founders and foundresses under the altar of the church. Seemingly immune to the natural process of decay, the church calls them “incorruptible saints.” They say it is a sign of holiness and that the person lived a life so closely aligned with Christ that normal processes are delayed.
Wilhelmina was not embalmed and buried in a simple wooden coffin, which is said to have had a crack down the middle. Because of the crack, a layer of mold grew inside.
One nun told Newsweek, “We were told by cemetery personnel to expect just bones in the conditions, as Sister Wilhelmina was buried without embalming and in a simple wood coffin.”
“We went out to her grave to say the rosary after the sisters finished the digging,” the sister said. “Mother Abbess Cecilia looked through the crack made in the coffin, which very clearly occurred soon after her burial. She saw a totally intact foot with the sock on, looking just like it did when we had buried her. She could not help but scream with joy.”
“We took turns feeling the still-socked feet, very damp, but all there,” the sister said. “The dirt that fell in early on had pushed down on her facial features, especially the right eye, so we did place a wax mask over it. But her eyelashes, hair, eyebrows, nose and lips were all present, her mouth just about to smile.”
“After we cleaned off the mold and mildew because of the wet conditions in the coffin, it looked like we had just put [the habit] on her that day. This was a testament to her love for the sisterhood and what she was passing down to us who followed her.”
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