Rorate Caeli

Sister Wilhelmina, OSB: new note from Benedictines of Mary

The Benedictines of Mary are amongst the greatest women religious in the Catholic Church today. Several Rorate contributors have supported them, and they have been friends to many, many readers, communicants, families and priests. It is difficult to say enough good things about them, and we have encouraged readers to consider donations for their second monastery.

So to many, it is little surprise that the order's foundress, Sister Mary Wilhelmina, OSB, has been found, four years after her death, to be incorrupt. Sister Wilhelmina was an amazing person during her lifetime from all accounts, devoted to the traditional Latin Mass and spreading the good news, especially to young women, about how religious life and tradition can be a happy and attractive choice. I remember her visits to Saint Mary's in Washington, D.C., many years ago for the Sunday 9 a.m. traditional Latin Mass. Others recall her visiting Saint Alphonsus in Baltimore, a longtime beautiful TLM church that is now a Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter apostolate, and other TLM parishes. She began what is now the gold standard of Benedictines in the U.S. -- thriving, vibrant and expanding. Now her amazing life continues as she is revered in death.

The Benedictines of Mary have issued a new statement regarding logistics for the recent pilgrims to Gower, Missouri, to see Sister Wilhelmina's incorrupt body:

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.

In addition to Catholic and conservative media covering this story, there has been mainstream media attention starting to take note, including a CNN piece. Favor to ask of mainstream media reporters: please use the preferred Catholic style for referring to Catholic women religious, which is the word "Sister" followed by the religious name of the woman religious. So, even though Sister Wilhelmina was born Mary Elizabeth Lancaster, her religious name is Sister Mary Wilhelmina, OSB. So, use Sister Wilhelmina, not Lancaster, to refer to her, including on second references and beyond. Same with the mother abbess (Mother Abbess Cecilia, OSB) or other sisters and nuns. One would not refer to Mother Teresa as Bojaxhiu on second reference, right? (Mother Teresa was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu.)

This is an exciting time for the Benedictines of Mary and traditional Catholics in an otherwise tough era. May there be miracles and counterrevolution following years of cruelty, segregation and oppression. Pray for Sister Wilhelmina, OSB, as she may very well be praying for you and the Church.