Folklore - St Joseph House Selling

Statue of St. Joseph

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 practice.

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 prayer effectiveness.

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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