The recently exhumed body of a Missouri nun is attracting the influx of hundreds of pilgrims after the corpse was remarkably discovered intact after four years with no signs of decomposition.
Some have described the revelation of the preserved remains of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster as a “miracle in Missouri.”
Lancaster, the founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of Apostles, died in 2019, aged 95.
Her body was not embalmed and was buried in a wooden coffin in Gower, Missouri, the Catholic News Agency reported.
Last week — four years after Lancaster’s death — the Benedictine Sisters decided to unearth Lancaster’s body to move her remains under the altar in their convent’s chapel as is customary for founders, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The sisters were reportedly stunned when they opened the coffin, which even had a crack down the middle.
“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,” one nun, who was not identified, told Newsweek.
The sister told the news outlet that when Mother Abbess Cecilia peered through the crack in the coffin, “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,” the sister said.
When the sisters realized Lancaster’s body was still totally intact, they “took turns feeling the still-socked feet,” the nun told Newsweek.
“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,” the sister said.
As the news spread on social media, droves of people began flocking to the Missouri town to visit the body, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Lancaster’s body will be displayed in the sisters’ chapel in Gower until May 29 and then will be encased in glass.
Typically, without preservation techniques like embalming or mummification, the human body slowly begins to decay the moment a person’s heart stops beating, Insider previously reported.
In many cases, the body will decompose until all that’s left are the bones.