Upcoming Events View All
28
KC Ladies Auxiliary Council 7198 BUNCO BASH

Sunday, 04/28/2024 at 1:00 PM

28
Organ concert with David Sinden

Sunday, 04/28/2024 at 3:00 PM

4
La Festa

Saturday, 05/04/2024 at 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM

5
May procession

Sunday, 05/05/2024 at 1:00 PM

5
International Bereaved Mothers' Gathering

Sunday, 05/05/2024 at 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

8
Made for More Speaker Series

Wednesday, 05/08/2024 at 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

14
SSND Summer Service Week

Sunday, 07/14/2024 at 7:00 PM -
Saturday, 07/20/2024 at 11:00 AM

The exhumed body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, lay in repose in the church at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower on May 21.
The exhumed body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, lay in repose in the church at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower on May 21.
Photo Credit: Megan Marley | OSV News

Thousands flock to Missouri to see nun’s apparently incorrupt body

The remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster — foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles — are said to be incorrupt

After visiting the body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, most visitors stopped by the abbey chapel near where the line exited the building for Eucharistic adoration at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower, Mo., May 27.
Photo Credits: Megan Marley | OSV News
GOWER, Mo. — Thousands flocked to a rural Missouri monastery over the Memorial Day weekend to venerate the apparently incorrupt body of a Benedictine nun with visitors telling OSV News the experience has been spiritually powerful for them.

“It’s electrifying. It’s galvanizing the hearts of the faithful and the unfaithful as well,” said Luke Nold of Easton, Missouri, a volunteer helping the crowds converging at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, located outside of Gower. “I’ve talked to people who have come from as far as Colorado, as near as Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa … northern Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina. And some of the stories I’m hearing are just profound. A local mortician came out just in disbelief; this doesn’t happen.”

The remarkably intact remains of Benedictine Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster of the Most Holy Rosary have been on display for several weeks at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus. On April 28, the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles had exhumed the body of their foundress to transfer it to a new shrine altar honoring St. Joseph.

Despite a lack of embalming, an in-ground burial in a wooden coffin and water pooling in the grave, both the remains and the habit looked essentially the same as when Sister Wilhelmina died at age 95 in May 2019.

Vistors stood in a long line to view the apparently incorrupt body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower, Mo., May 27.
Photo Credits: Megan Marley | OSV News
Bodily incorruptibility has long been regarded in both Catholic and Orthodox traditions as a potential — though not conclusive — divine sign affirming an individual lived a life of sanctity. The bodies of more than 100 canonized saints have been seemingly untouched by decay.

A May 22 statement from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, said the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains “has understandably generated widespread interest and raised important questions.” It added, “Bishop (James V.) Johnston is working to establish a thorough process for understanding the nature of the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains.”

As word of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains spread, pilgrims from several states have steadily descended on the abbey, praying before and touching items to the body, which the sisters cleaned and protected with a coating of wax.

The visits intensified ahead of a May 29 Rosary procession, after which Sister Wilhelmina’s body was encased in glass at the altar shrine. One law enforcement official said the visitors numbered “close to 5,000” on just Friday alone of Memorial Day weekend.

Sister Wilhelmina was born in St. Louis as Mary Elizabeth Lancaster. At the age of 17, she went to Baltimore to join the Oblate Sisters of Providence. After 50 years with the historically African American religious community — whose foundress, Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, is on the path to sainthood — Sister Wilhelmina established the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles in 1995. The congregation uses the older forms of the Roman Rite promulgated prior to the start of the Second Vatican Council: they have Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal and chant the psalms according to the 1962 Monastic Office. The sisters have even had commercial success with their recordings of chants, topping Billboard’s traditional classic album charts in 2013 and 2014.

Related Articles Module

From the Archive Module

Thousands flock to Missouri to see nuns apparently incorrupt body 8693

Must Watch Videos

Now Playing

    View More Videos