Unearthed after 4 years: the body of a nun with no trace of decomposition

Disinterred after 4 years: the body of a religious sister without trace of decomposition


The body of a Catholic sister, dug up four years after her death to be moved to her final resting place in Missouri, surprised her comrades who found her with virtually no signs of decomposition.  

“We were told by the cemetery staff to expect to find only bones in these conditions, since Sister Wilhelmina [Lancaster] had been buried without embalming and in a simple wooden coffin”, reported one sisters to “Newsweek”, according to what “The Guardian” reported on Saturday. 

Hundreds of believers would have traveled to Missouri to see with their own eyes the exhumed body of the sister, former foundress of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, a monastery in the town of Gower. 

Because beyond a layer of mold on the body, probably due to condensation in the cracked coffin, the corpse showed very few signs of decomposition more than four years after his death in 2019, reported the Catholic News Agency, sharing photos. 

But according to Nicholas Passalacqua, associate professor and director of forensic anthropology at Western Carolina University, it's not uncommon to find bodies well preserved within the first few years after death. 

“In general, when we bury a body in our human decomposition facility, we anticipate that it will take about five years to skeletonize, he reportedly told Newsweek. That's without a coffin […] So for this body, I personally don't find it too surprising that the remains are well preserved after only four years.”

Nevertheless, the sister could be the very first African American woman to be found in this “incorruptible” state, which is a sign of holiness in the Catholic religion, Mother Cecilia, the monastery's abbess, reportedly told Catholic News Agency.