All over the country, people who want to sell their home are seeking help from an unlikely source – Saint Joseph. Many would-be sellers bury a statue of Saint Joseph in their yards with the hope that the Saint’s intercession will bring them offers. Some people say that the position the Saint is buried in makes a difference – he should be upside down and facing the street, say some believers. Others say he should face the home. Or perhaps lie horizontal on its back. Many just put the statue in a flowerpot on the front porch. Everyone agrees that he shouldn’t be dug up until after closing, but some people stipulate that the statue should be given a place of honor in the new home. Saint Joseph, traditionally the patron saint of home and family, has become the patron saint of real estate.
Even Snopes.com has an article on the practice. Stephen J. Binz wrote a book called Saint Joseph, My Real Estate Agent in which he details many success stories of the buried Saint and depicts the practice as a prayerful ritual.
Saint Joseph was a carpenter and the earthly father of Jesus. How he became the patron saint of real estate is unclear and several stories exist.Where did this superstition begin?
One story tells that nuns buried a statue of the Saint to help them sell their convent during the Middle Ages. Other stories claim that the nuns were trying to buy land for a new convent and buried the statue on the land they wanted to buy.
Another story claims that the tradition was begun by German carpenters, honoring the carpenter Saint by burying his statue in the homes that they built.
A fourth story says that the practice began in Montreal in the late 1800s when Brother Andre Bessette buried statues on land that he wanted to buy for a new oratory.
However the story started, one manufacturer of Saint Joseph statues claims that sales of the statue increase dramatically whenever home sales decrease. Statues of Saint Joseph retail for $4-6 and up.