be made at this site of the custom of burying a statue of St. Joseph in order
to sell a home you place on the market.
The custom hearkens back at least to the great St. Teresa of Avila (A.D.
1515 - 1582), foundress of the Disalced Carmelite Order. As her Order spread,
a new convent had to be built, and in order for a new convent to be built,
land must be had. When the nuns found a particular piece of land that was
perfect for their purposes, they also found that their coffers weren't full
enough to purchase it, so they decided to ask the intercession of St. Joseph,
burying medals imprinted with his likeness in the ground of the desired property
as a sign of their prayers. It worked.
It also worked for Blessed Brother André Bessette, who was able to
get the land on which he built the Shrine of St. Joseph of Mount Royal, in
Montreal, Canada by praying to St. Joseph and burying a St. Joseph medal
on the grounds of the future site as a sign of his prayers.
Now, both of these events deal with acquiring land, not selling
it, and they deal with St. Joseph medals, not St. Joseph
statues. Nonetheless, over time, the folk custom came to be for
sellers of homes to bury a statue of St. Joseph as a sign of
prayer asking to find a buyer and hasten the sale.
How it's done
a statue of St. Joseph is placed inside a protective cloth and buried upside-down
in the front yard. People differ as to whether the statue should be upside-down
or right side-up, and whether the yard should be the front yard or back yard,
but worrying about such things is unecessary.
Then a prayer to St. Joseph is said. One sadly popular, "kitschy" version
of a prayer for this purpose is:
Oh, St. Joseph,
guardian of household needs, we know you don't like to be upside down in
the ground, but the sooner escrow closes the sooner we will dig you up and
put you in a place of honor in our new home. Please bring us an acceptable
offer (or any offer!) and help sustain our faith in the real estate market.
Ahem! What kind
of way is that to talk to the earthly Father of Our Savior? If one thinks
St. Joseph doesn't like for his statue to be buried in the ground, one shouldn't
bury it! This so-called "prayer" not only calls a statue "you" as if it were
the Saint himself, but it sounds more like a ransom note than a humble beseeching
-- "St. Joseph, we gotcha right where we want ya. We know ya hate it in the
ground, see, but if ya want out, ya better come up with the goods, capisce?"
Sheesh! Truly, if one decides to bury a statue (or medal, in the older way),
a sincere and humble prayer would definitely be the only way to go.
How about this simple prayer?
beate Ioseph, et tuae orationis suffragio apud tuum putativum Filium intercede;
sed et beatissimam Virginem Sponsam tuam nobis propitiam redde, quae Mater
est Eius, qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat per infinita saecula
Be mindful of us, O Blessed Joseph, and intercede for us with thy foster-Son
by the pleading of thy prayer: do thou, in like manner, render the blessed
Virgin Mary, thy Spouse, gracious unto us, for she is the Mother of Him,
Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth world without
Anyway, when the
house is sold, God and St. Joseph are thanked, the statue is dug up and given
a place of honor in your new home, and you, of course, tell others about
the power of St. Joseph's intercession.
Is this custom superstitious? It is if one doesn't believe in the
intercession of Saints and the good of making outward signs of prayer. Given
that two million
St. Joseph home-selling kits (offsite, will open in new
browser window) are sold each year -- even to Protestants and pagans -- I
imagine that most people who practice this custom do
superstitiously bury the statues for a sense of "luck" more than anything.
But that doesn't make the practice bad in itself, not when it's done properly:
with sincere prayer, giving St. Joseph a place of honor in your new home,
and telling others of the wonders of this great Saint.
A note from a site
This does work!
My wife and I buried a small St Joseph statue in our back yard after 3 months
of fruitless effort in selling our home. Shortly after, we were getting traffic
through our home and did eventually sell our home. The timing was perfect
because the home we were buying was contingent on this sale as well as that
home's sale was contingent, too! St Joseph truly came through for us. As
an aside, a year later I was digging in my garden and who did I
find................. yes, the previous owner's St Joseph. We're keeping
him and he's keeping us.