The lead story in last week’s issue, about a dead nun (no, really), brought an interesting reaction, so I thought I’d put it here for discussion. Let’s start with the story:
A Benedictine monastery in Gower, Mo., had put the founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in a temporary grave when she died four years ago. Now that there is a final resting place available in the chapel, the nuns had gravediggers exhume her unembalmed body, which was buried in an unsealed wood coffin. They told the sisters to expect to find only bones, but when the casket was opened, Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster’s body didn’t look much worse than the day she was buried. A miracle, some say, declaring in Catholic parlance that she is “incorrupt,” and eligible for sainthood. Even her habit, made of “cheap material,” looked good. The sisters merely had to clean away a little mold and put wax sealant on her face and hands. Reburial in the chapel has been canceled: now they want to put Sister Wilhelmina in a glass case for “long-term viewing.” (RC/WDAF Kansas City) …One difference between a saint and a televangelist: a televangelist wouldn’t be caught dead in a cheap suit.
That this happened in a monastery, not a convent, is correct: the monastery invited the Sisters to set up there.
In an Author’s Note, I said I was lying down for a nap (I’m still recovering from Covid-19) when I came up with that tagline. Also, since the story was getting a little long, I excised one bit: “‘She’s a Saint already,’ said one visitor who traveled to view her body, without saying whether they were the pope or not. ‘I already have her canonized.’” Because, you know, random folks get to decide these things.
Sister Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster, who is/was Black, is the founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in 1995. She was formerly part of the Oblate Sisters of Providence (founded by Mother Mary Lange in 1829 as the first-ever Black religious order in America).
Bishop Robert Finn invited the order to his diocese in March 2006.
Led by their founder, the nuns (in addition to their regular duties) are also recording artists, and their first two albums of recorded chants and hymns reached Number 1 on the classical traditional Billboard charts. They were thereafter named Billboard‘s Classical Traditional artists of the year (2013), the first order of nuns to win such an award in the history of Billboard.
Their album sales have been used to improve the monastery and pay off the abbey’s debt.
Luca, a free edition reader in Italy, commented, “Where to start…. I’m a Catholic and I believe in Saints but I think they should be put up for veneration based on saintly deeds they did while they were alive, not on what happens to their corpse after they die. As of late there has been too much talk about miracles in Italy, and I’m really happy when the Pope and the State try and put a stop to that. Belief in God (and our moral compass) shouldn’t depend on miracles and other shenanigans or be swayed by them. I think the sisters are either easily impressed or looking for some sweet profit. Keep up the good work!”
I was hoping some Roman Catholic readers would comment, but that’s the only one — so far. So now the Comments below are open for you to weigh in, Catholic or not.
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