(OSV News) — Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster of the Most Holy Rosary claimed to have had profound religious experiences, beginning in her childhood. She was born Mary Elizabeth Lancaster April 13, 1924 in St. Louis. Her great-grandmother, Mary Madden, had been a slave.
In a short autobiography discovered after Sister Wilhelmina’s death, she wrote that at her first Communion in 1934, 9-year-old Mary Elizabeth had “an unforgettable experience,” where “Our Lord asked me if I would be His.” “He seemed to be such a handsome and wonderful Man. I agreed immediately. Then He told me to meet Him every Sunday at Holy Communion. I said nothing about this conversation to anyone, believing that everyone that went to Holy Communion heard Our Lord talk to them.”
Notes with her eight-page autobiographical sketch, as shared by her religious community, also mentioned that the future Sister Wilhelmina also had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who thanked her for praying the rosary.
Foundress of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Missouri, Sister Wilhelmina died in May 2019 at age 95. On April 28, her body was exhumed from her grave to move it to a tomb in the monastery’s chapel. Despite her body not being embalmed, damage to her wooden coffin, and water sitting on her grave — all elements that should have contributed to her body’s decomposition — her body was found remarkably intact, the community’s sisters say.
The sisters said that a sainthood cause for Sister Wilhelmina may be taken up should widespread devotion to their foundress first be established.
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