Bishops Call for an Investigation as Thousands of People Flock to Sister Wilhelmina's Incorrupt Body which is Now in a Glass Case

Bishops of Missouri have called for an investigation as thousands of people flock to Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster's Incorrupt body which is now in a glass case. The foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, who died in 2019 at age 95, Sr. Wihelmina was found incorrupt after 4 years underground. Morticians are surprised by the state of incoruption of this saintly Catholic nun. On May 29th, the Catholic Benedictine Nuns held a rosary procession and placed the glass case with the incorrupt body of their foundress in their Abbey Church. Bishops and the Order Released statements of caution and need for investigation:
Statement regarding Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster

The condition of the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster has understandably generated widespread interest and raised
important questions. At the same time, it is important to protect the integrity of the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina to allow for a thorough investigation.

Bishop Johnston is working to establish a thorough process for understanding the nature of the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains.

Incorruptibility has been verified in the past, but it is very rare. There is a well-established process to pursue the cause for sainthood, but that has not been initiated in this case yet.

Bishop Johnston invites all the Faithful to continue praying during this time of investigation for God’s will in the lives of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; for all women religious; and all the baptized in our common vocation to holiness, with hope and trust in the Lord.

Statement from Bishop McKnight regarding the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster

The Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City, has issued the following statement regarding the remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster:

I want to briefly address the interest in our neighboring diocese regarding the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, the foundress of the Benedictine Abbey in Gower, Missouri. Her remains were recently exhumed by the order to be moved to their chapel.

This enthusiasm makes it clear there is a deep hunger in our society for the miraculous — a desire to see the power of God with our own eyes.

But with this excitement comes a need for caution. The Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Bishop of Kansas City — St. Joseph, who has pastoral responsibility for the monastery, has announced he is creating a process to understand the nature of the condition of Sister Wilhelmina’s remains. You can read his message here.

Our Catholic Church has procedures to investigate purported miracles and the causes for sainthood. It is important to remember these processes are slow, prudent efforts. There has been no declaration of a miracle, nor has the process to consider the cause for canonization of Sr. Wilhelmina Lancaster begun based upon heroic virtues.

For these reasons, and for the concerns of civic authorities for the safety and well-being of visitors, I discourage anyone in the Diocese of Jefferson City from visiting the Benedictine Abbey in Gower, Missouri, or treating the mortal remains of Sister Wilhelmina as relics.

As we pray and wait, I want to again acknowledge the natural desire to experience the miraculous.

If you are feeling this right now, please seek out the Eucharist. The real presence of Christ in our celebration of the Mass and in our reception of His Body and Blood in sacramental communion is the true center of our faith. Everything else is secondary.

Please also seek out sacramental reconciliation and experience the miracle of God’s forgiveness.

These sacraments are available to all of us at our local parish church.

I also join Bishop Johnston in his call inviting everyone to continue their prayers for the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles; for all women religious; and all the baptized in our common vocation to holiness, with hope and trust in the Lord.

STATEMENT from the Benedictines

Dear Families, Friends and Benefactors,
By now, most of you have heard of the events that have transpired at the Abbey, especially surrounding the exhumation of our Sister Wilhelmina. We simply want to reach out to you to clarify a few points.

Our Abbey had been planning the addition of a St. Joseph Shrine within the oratory for quite some time, including the reinterment of the remains of our beloved foundress, Sister Wilhelmina. Last month, in preparation for the construction of the shrine, we exhumed her, having been told to expect bones in the highly moist clay of Missouri, as she was buried in a simple wooden coffin without any embalming whatsoever four years ago.

The intent was devotional, and to carry this out in the privacy of our cloistered life. Nevertheless, the discovery of what appeared to be an intact body and a perfectly preserved religious habit created an unexpected twist to our plans. We had no intent to make the discovery so public, but unfortunately, a private email was posted publicly, and the news began to spread like wildfire. However, God works in mysterious ways, and we embrace His new plan for us.

Many have voiced concern about the disruption to our life, but we have, thankfully, remained unaffected and able to continue on in our life of ora at labora, prayer and work, as Sister Wilhelmina would have it. Unless we looked out the front windows, or out at the crowds attending our Mass and Divine Offices, we would not even know people are here. 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, as they allow us to continue our life in peace, while granting the visitors a pleasant and prayerful experience at the Abbey.

Regarding what seems to be the miraculous preservation of Sister’s body, we are given the opportunity to contemplate the great gifts God gives us every day, especially the ones that are literally hidden from our eyes. St. Augustine said that “We marvel at what is extraordinary. Think of the fact that a few seeds bring forth an entire field of wheat.” Of this and ordinary daily miracles, he says, “We don’t bother to reflect on this fact because it is always there. What we notice are events that aren’t part of the ordinary course of nature. They are works that God has reserved for particular times and places to cause us amazement and dumbfound us so that we will open our minds to God’s presence and care in all events and beauties.” We believe that even as Sister Wilhelmina’s whole life and death was a miracle, pointing the way to Almighty God, that what she has left behind continues to point to His Resurrection and the life of glory that awaits us.

The relics of a person are exhumed in the ordinary course of action for the opening of the causes of saints, leading many to believe that such a cause has been or will be opened. As this is not the case, we continue on with a simple reinterment of our foundress, and are seeking advice on a possible opening of a cause in the future, especially as Sister has not yet reached the required minimum of five years since death in order to begin. Initial statements regarding Sister’s extraordinary physical state have already been procured, but we acknowledge that further studies must be done later, in an official capacity.

While we can attest to Sister’s personal sanctity, we know that incorruptibility is not among the official signs taken by the Church as a miracle for sainthood, and that all things must be subjected to further scrutiny, especially by the competent authorities in the medical field. The life itself and favors received must be established as proof of holiness.

For all those inquiring about visiting Sr Wilhelmina, please know there are thousands of people coming. If you are willing to wait in line, please bring folding chairs and umbrellas for shade if desired. There may be some food available on the grounds, but it is not guaranteed. You may arrive beginning at 8am through 8pm. We ask that all guests depart immediately after Compline. If you do not want to attend Mass at 11 am here, please avoid coming from between 10:30 and 12:30 Sunday and Monday as there is not much room. Mass on Saturday is at 4pm.

Please know that it will be impossible to give communion to everyone, so thank you for your understanding about that. Please note that you will still be able to see Sister’s body and take dirt from her grave after the morning of the 29th, at which point she will be placed in the glass shrine in our church.
We had originally planned that the reinterment of Sister Wilhelmina on May 29th would be a simple, private ceremony involving the Sisters only, but things have certainly taken an unexpected turn since our original plan!
For those inquiring, we will do a Rosary procession sometime around 4:30, and will place her body in the St. Joseph Shrine after that.