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Photos: Thousands of Pilgrims Flock to See ‘Miracle’ Nun Whose Body Shows Little Decay Since 2019 Death

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May 30 2023, Published 2:52 p.m. ET

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Over Memorial Day weekend, thousands flocked to a church outside of rural Gower, Missouri, where the "miracle" remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster were on display, has learned.

In May 2019, Wilhelmina passed away. Four years later on May 18, her remains were exhumed to be interred at the newly built St. Joseph's Shrine, but the interment did not go as planned.

Nuns at the parish were shocked to discover the body in near-perfect condition.

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Her remains were not embalmed in 2019 — and Wilhelmina was buried in a simple wooden casket, providing little protection from the elements. Despite this, the body was well-preserved — and some considered the shocking discovery a "miracle."

According to Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish, the Benedictine Abbey saw an average of 200 vehicles stream onto the property every hour to witness the miracle for themselves.

Sheriff Fish announced in a Facebook post that an estimated 15,000 visitors were expected over the holiday weekend.

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"We're going to see this probably for months, but right now this weekend is probably going to be the biggest influx of people that you’re going to see in this area," Fish said in the Facebook video post.

On Saturday, a EWTN News photojournalist described the sea of people pouring into the rural church to experience the "miracle" of Wilhelmina's remains.

Pilgrims were said to have kissed the deceased nun's hands and touched rosary beads to her remains.

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Onlookers rushed to the scene due to the limited window to view Wilhelmina up close. On Monday afternoon, the nun's body was scheduled to be moved to a glass case, where the body will remain on display to the public.

While the event appeared macabre to outsiders, pilgrims stated that the body presented no foul odor — and even a well-experienced mortician was perplexed by the state of Wilhelmina's remains.

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"If you’re telling me that this woman went into the ground unembalmed in a wooden box with no outer container in the ground and it was not sub-zero up in Alaska, I’m telling you, I’m going to start a devotion to this sister, because something special is going on there," Barry Lease, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, told Catholic News Agency.

According to CNA, there was no official determination by the Catholic church on whether or not Wilhelmina's remains were considered "incorrupt," a potential sign of sanctity.

Additionally, a canonization, the official process of sainthood in the church, was not said to be underway at the time.



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