He’s the patron saint of families, carpenters, and working people in general, but he is also the protector and patron saint of home sellers. Well, who better?
Many sellers believe burying a statue of St. Joseph will help them get their house sold. That’s the theory, anyway. The practice may seem odd to some, but every seller knows you have to do what you can to edge past the competition.
Yes, but this?
Well, we’ve taken a good look and can tell you all about St. Joseph, why and how people bury his statue, and what’s really important: whether you should.…should you?
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The History of Celebrating St. Joseph and Burying Him To Sell Your House
Many places in the country with Roman Catholic, Italian, and Polish communities love St. Joseph.
New Orleans, New York City, Providence, RI, and many more, celebrate his feast day on March 19. There are parades, homemade altars, red clothes, and gifts of food to charity. A Rhode Island kosher bakery has even been known to bake red bagels in honor of his color on that day.
This burying practice (or superstition) has misty origins, but it’s said that St. Teresa of Avila needed land for another convent in the 16th century. She and her nuns buried medals of St. Joseph and prayed to him. It was not long before they got the land they needed to continue their work.
There is also the old German ritual of carpenters burying a statue of their patron St. Joseph in the foundation of the house they were building. In the late 1800s, Brother Andre Bessette of Montreal repeated St. Avila’s medal burial when owners would not sell him the land he wanted for a chapel. The story says they abruptly changed their minds and made the sale!
Any of these legends may have contributed to the belief that the St. Joseph statue can help in a real estate deal.
There is really no record in folklore about statue burial as a widespread practice. There just isn’t…until the 1970s. So it’s more a trend than a tradition, one that heated up in the 1990s. And, if you put any stock in internet testimonials, it’s still going strong.
The Roman Catholic Church does not officially recognize or reject St. Joseph statue burial, although they emphasize it’s an act of faith, second to your all-important belief and prayers. You don’t even have to be Roman Catholic, since the Anglican/Episcopal, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches all venerate St. Joseph. In fact, holding at least some Christian belief in the Holy Family seems to be enough to make burying the St. Joseph statue to sell your house an option.
But beware thinking of it as just a superstition, or calling St. Joseph a mere good luck charm. Some of the faithful consider it an insult to the saint and the church to use him like a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover.
How to Bury a St. Joseph Statue to Sell Your House
There’s no One Official Way to bury the St. Joseph statue; sources agree on a few things and give mixed messages about others.
A small, simple statue of St. Joseph is all you need. You can buy one online; in fact, there are websites dedicated to selling them, even in kits with instructions and prayers, and they’re also available on big sites like Amazon. The statue should be wrapped in a clean cloth, such as a small towel, to protect it. Some people also use a plastic bag with a seal.
When it comes to the actual burial, things aren’t quite as clear.
Sources Say You Should:
- Bury him near your For Sale sign. (Makes sense.)
- Bury him 12 inches deep. (Or not.)
- Bury him close to the road, facing it, as a sign that you’re leaving the house soon.
- Place him upside-down so that he will be motivated to free himself by getting your house sold. (This strategy suggests your prayers tell him he’s stuck until the job is done.)
- Bury him right-side-up, facing your house/lying on his back, pointing towards your house/close to the back of the house, or near any backyard flowers.
- If you’re selling an apartment or condo, you can use a flowerpot, with or without plants, placed on a deck or windowsill.
- Or if you just don’t like the idea of burying a saint, you can place him in your home, in view of your For Sale sign. (To remind him to get your house sold.)
Then, sources agree, you need to say your prayers. Ask for the saint’s intercession when you bury him, and pray to him every day until the house is sold.
When your house sells, retrieve the statue from the ground and take it with you. Some instructions say if you leave St. Joseph buried, no one will live in the house for long because you’ve stuck it in a sale-and-purchase loop.
In any case, leaving him in the ground seems ungrateful. Much better, and recommended, to find him a spot in your new home as a show of thanks. Perhaps where he has a nice view.
If You Want to Try Using the St. Joseph Statue to Sell Your House
Many statues and kits are inexpensive, in the under-$20 range. You can find St. Joseph plain or painted, wearing Biblical dress or a carpenter’s apron, making holy gestures or holding his tools. Generally, they’re a couple of inches tall and made from plastic or resin. Some are rather cute, others serene and serious.
Kits contain instructions and prayers, which are also online for free, but some of the prayer cards look nicely made for display in your home while the saint is underground.
If you don’t bury St. Joseph’s statue, but you would like whatever helpful intervention might be out there, try beckoning the saint’s protective spirit with small touches that symbolize him:
- Add red to your curb-appeal plan. Plant red flowers, add a door wreath, or re-paint the mailbox flag.
- Have your staging include some red décor, perhaps a pillow or throw on a coordinating chair. Put flowers in a beautiful vase. (Don’t paint the walls red, though.)
- Plant or display a lily or two, as they are associated with St. Joseph. “They toil not, neither do they spin”, but they may help you.
- Leave out a welcoming (red) plate of zeppole (traditional Italian pastry of fried dough dusted with sugar, and sometimes filled with cream), used to celebrate his feast day, for potential buyers. Or some of those red bagels if you can get them. Maybe send a few to your real estate agent’s office, too!
Source: Lin Nulman homelight.com