Nun whose body was exhumed after four years encased in glass after thousands of people came to visit

1 June 2023, 08:45 | Updated: 1 June 2023, 12:38

Thousands of people have flocked to the church to see the nun's remains
Thousands of people have flocked to the church to see the nun's remains. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A nun whose body has barely decomposed since her death in 2019 has been encased in glass after thousands of Catholics flocked to see her.

Thousands of Catholics have flocked to a monastery in Missouri, USA, to see Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, who was exhumed in April.

When Ms Lancaster was exhumed so her tomb could be improved, they were told to expect only bones, since she had been buried in a simple wooden coffin without any embalming four years ago.

But the nuns instead discovered “an intact body and a perfectly preserved religious habit,” according to a statement by church officials.

Her body has now been placed in a glass display so she could be carried around the property of the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus on Monday, as nuns recited the rosary and sang hymns.

Thousands are thought to have flocked to the site
Thousands are thought to have flocked to the site. Picture: Alamy

Religious experts say the lack of decay is a sign of holiness in Catholicism, with some calling for her to be made a saint, though others have suggested it is not rare.

The local ordinary, Bishop Vann Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, has called for a "thorough investigation" so "important questions" can be answered.

Read More: Catholics flock to US church to pray over body of nun who was exhumed after four years with almost no signs of decay

Read More: Unique house on sale featuring Tudor-era tunnel that allowed Catholics to escape when authorities visited

Meanwhile, thousands have been flocking to the site to see what some have described as a "miracle".

One visitor wrote online: "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."

Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster's body was exhumed in April
Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster's body was exhumed in April. Picture: Alamy

Another said: "This is possibly a once in a lifetime chance that we got to experience...to touch and be in the presence of the miraculously preserved remains of a beloved nun who may become a saint one day."

Following an influx of visitors, a statement from the monastery read: "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."

Read More: MPs reject attempts to allow silent prayer outside abortion clinics after Catholic woman arrested for second time

Rebecca George, an anthropology tutor at the Western Carolina University in North Carolina, said the body's lack of decomposition might not be as rare as people are expecting.

Ms George said the "mummification" of un-embalmed bodies is common at the university's facility and the bodies could stay preserved for many years, if allowed to.Coffins and clothing also help to preserve bodies, she said.

"Typically, when we bury people, we don't exhume them. We don't get to look at them a couple years out," Ms George said.

"With 100 years, there might be nothing left. But when you've got just a few years out, this is not unexpected."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Hungary's Kevin Csoboth, bottom, shoots past Scotland's goalkeeper Angus Gunn, top, during a Group A match between Scotland and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Sunday, June 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Scotland knocked out of Euro 2024 following Hungary's 100th-minute goal as collision sees star stretchered off

Elections betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories

Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at two synagogues killing six police before slitting priest's throat at Orthodox Church

Terror in Russia: Gunmen open fire at synagogue and Orthodox churches killing six police officers

Detective who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search for teen enters its second week

Investigator who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search targets remote buildings

M50 motorway Dublin

'Miracle' as schoolboy, 12, 'lucky to be alive' after toppling from toilet of moving coach onto motorway

Exclusive
'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of co-star Richard Whiteley

'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of Richard Whiteley

Alan Hansan

Ex-Liverpool captain Alan Hansen discharged from hospital

Manchester Airport boss apologises after 'power spike' sees mass cancellations as he gives flight status update

Flights from Manchester Airport 'expected to resume' on Sunday as travel boss apologises for mass cancellations

The highest temperatures of the summer are expected this week

Yellow heat-health alerts signal warm weather for most of England as temperatures to hit 30C

Passengers have been queuing for hours at Manchester Airport

All flights from two terminals at Manchester Airport cancelled as passengers urged not to travel

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice

Amanda Abbington forced to call police after being bombarded with death threats from troll fans of Giovanni Pernice

Exclusive
Robert Buckland has split from the PM and Home Secretary

Senior Tory splits from PM and Home Secretary as he calls for those involved in betting scandal to be suspended

James Cleverly joined LBC for Sunday with Lewis Goodall

Conservative candidate who described Rwanda policy as ‘crap’ did so to ‘shock his audience’, Home Secretary says

Jay

Jay Slater's father and brother make emotional pleas for return of the missing teenager

Michael Gove

Betting scandal as bad for Tories as Partygate, Michael Gove warns

42C heat has hit Europe this week

Extreme weather hits holiday hotspots in Europe with 42C heat and ‘meteo-tsunami’ as Brits warned before booking trip