From the truth behind the famous ghost boy photo to the telepathic death of George Lutz, let’s explore the strangest moments of the MGM+ documentary series.
His body didn’t decay! Did Father Ambrose Oschwald leave the town of St. Nazianz haunted and cursed by his heretical works and mystic cult?
The incorrupt remains of Father Ambrose Oschwald in 1926, 53 years after he died.
The town of St. Nazianz is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Wisconsin. It was founded by a rogue priest who, upon his death, is believed to have cursed the town he built. Throughout the years, natural disasters and numerous accounts of bizarre, unexplained phenomena have helped keep the legend alive.
Father Ambrose Oschwald was fleeing religious persecution when he came to Wisconsin in 1854. The Roman Catholic Church had suspended him from his duties in the parish of a small town in the Black Forest of Germany due to “mystical, prophetic, and heretical works.”
When Oschwald left, the congregation uprooted and followed him to the US. They made their way to Wisconsin where, a 1920s newspaper article reported, a “divine white heifer” lead the group to the sacred land that would become St. Nazianz.
They called themselves The Association and formed a society based on sharing everything as common property, working without pay to support the community as a whole. And it worked for them. They thrived for many years.
But things took a turn for the strange when Oschwald fell sick in 1873.
The Death of Ambrose Oschwald
The crypt of Father Ambrose Oschwald
A man named Anton Still stayed with Oschwald while he was sick, comforting the dying man from his bedside. During that time, he observed Oschwald gesturing to invisible guests.
“A number of times,” Still wrote, “I have observed that he, with closed eyes, when there was no one else in the room but I alone, would extend his hands in blessing, and then with his hand, signal someone away, and yet I saw no one in the room.”
Throughout the night of February 26th, as Oschwald lay dying, there were reports of mysterious pounding on the walls of his room, as well as residences throughout the town.
The sounds stopped when Oschwald died the following morning.
The body of Father Ambrose Oschwald lying in state at his funeral in 1873.
A judge from Manitowoc came to view Oschwald’s body the day before the funeral. He was taken aback by the liveliness of the corpse, warning not to bury it because Oschwald was not dead.
Oshwald’s tomb had not yet been complete, so his coffin was placed on view in a crypt beneath the high alter of the old St. Ambrose church.
The coffin was reopened on April 29th for examination before it was to be placed in the completed chamber.
A priest by the name of Father Mutz, along with a group called the Oschwald Sisters, noted that his body had not decayed, and there was no odor of corruption. Oshwald’s eyes had sunken in, but his skin had a lifelike complexion, his hair and fingernails were growing.
They washed his face and noted that it served to give him an even more natural complexion.
Father Oschwald’s tomb
The next day, 63 days after his death, Oschwald was finally sealed in his coffin and moved into the completed burial vault.
The coffin was opened again on October 4th, 1926, when it was being moved into a new stone mausoleum below Lorreto Hill. Local health officer Dr. L.W. Gregory, as well as other members of the clergy, observed through a glass cover that Oschwald’s corpse was still in remarkably good shape after 53 years.
His skin had become shriveled and sallow, but his body and vestments were still very much intact. The iron on his coffin and rusted and fallen away long ago.
Crypt of Father Oschwald, with the Chapel of Our Lady of Loretto on the hill above.
The Salvatorian Priests & Brothers arrived at St. Nazianz in 1896 to continue what Oschwald had started.
Oschwald remains in the mausoleum at the base of the hill, overlooking a cemetery full of priests. Legends of a “Catholic mystic cult” whose “secret practices” drove them from their home in Germany to found St. Nazianz still persist today.
JFK Prep & Salvatorian Seminary
The old Salvatorian Seminary, now known as JFK Prep, is a huge abandoned building rumored to be haunted by the tortured souls of kids who suffered at the hands of abusive nuns.