Folklore — Bury St. Joseph
A folk custom has arisen in about the last 30 to 40 years, especially
in the United States. The “good luck” gesture is to
bury a statute of St. Joseph upside down somewhere on the property
of the home a person is trying to sell. This act accompanied by
a home sale prayer to St. Joseph is believed by some to lead to
a successful sale. To date, the Roman Catholic ordinary magisterium
(the teaching authority) has not pronounced for or against the
The Catholic Church's current position is the statue burial is
acceptable provided it is grounded primarily in prayer to St.
Joseph as an intercessor. Belief that this “bearer of
good luck” is sufficient of itself or belief that it alone
brought about a successful sale is not consistent with Catholic
doctrine. The view is such thinking comes very close to idolatry
and superstition. Idolatry is transferring an indestructible notion
of God to anything other than God. Superstition is to impart the
effectiveness of prayer to mere outward performance rather than
One way of grounding prayer in the burial of the statute is the
30 day prayer to St. Joseph. This prayer honoring St Joseph's
life experiences and prayer for his intercession certainly elevates
the statue burying to more than “good luck”. Another
way to ground in prayer is the traditional 9 day Novena to
St. Joseph or the 7 Sunday Novena to St. Joseph. The
St. Joseph rosary and the St. Joseph Chaplet are
two more ways for a Catholic to make prayer the primary for the
burial of the St. Joseph statute.
Stephen J. Binz, Catholic and author of “St. Joseph, My
Real Estate Agent” had his house for sale for 7 months.
He buried the St. Joseph statue and recited his prayer to St.
Joseph for sale of a house provided in his home sale kit. Within
one week he had sold the house. Binz contends it is superstition
if you treat it as that. Binz says “the distinction (concerning
burying a St. Joseph statue) between superstition and devotion
is created by the person doing it”. Stated another way it
is superstition if you bury the statute and count on that alone
to sell the house. If you bury the St. Joseph statue prayerfully
and as an act of faith it is devotion not superstition.
Religious articles stores sell the St. Joseph kit containing a
small statue for burial, a little background on the custom and
a prayer card. The details vary on exactly how the statue should
be buried. Some say the St. Joseph statue should be buried in
the back yard (some say front) upside down with his feet pointing
to heaven, facing the house. The statue is supposed to then have
a place of honor in the new home.
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