Currently there is a mound of dirt in our front yard. Under that mound is a statue. A statue of St. Joseph—upside down—facing the street. Or is he facing the house? I don’t remember which way we placed him. Anyway, next to the dirt is a For Sale sign. Confused?
Well, in case you didn’t already know, this is a fairly common custom among those trying to sell their homes. St. Joseph is considered the patron saint of real estate. In fact, when we put our house on the market, one of the first questions people asked us was not about the price or the reason for selling, but rather whether we had buried a St. Joseph statue yet.
A Tradition Begins
But how did St. Joseph get this sales job? Well, there are a lot of stories about its beginnings. But the most prominent one involves St. Teresa of Avila, founder of the Discalced Carmelites, somewhere in the mid-1500s. When the order flourished, St. Teresa began searching for land for a second convent.
Having no luck in her search, she asked all the Discalced Carmelites to pray with her to St. Joseph. She also asked them to bury small, blessed medals of the saint around the property. Shortly after, St. Teresa found a piece of land. A tradition was started.
Yet another story about the tradition says it was German homebuilders who gave St. Joseph his gig in real estate. Apparently the builders would place a statue of St. Joseph in the walls or foundations of homes they were building. They would then say prayers for those who would eventually inhabit the house.
The builders found that the houses that contained the statues sold more quickly than those without. Over time, St. Joseph made his way out from the walls, but was transferred to the front yard, where the tradition has him these days.
Of course, for as many people who put full faith in this tradition, there are just as many who put little stock in the saint’s real-estate prowess. They claim that nothing more than good marketing, pricing, and presentation is necessary for selling your home.
Either way, though, St. Joseph certainly has earned himself a reputation in the real-estate industry. In fact, a quick search of the Internet will yield lots of stories and do-it-yourself kits.
So while my family is putting our trust in the hands of our real-estate agent, we’re also asking for a little help from good old St. Joe. Our hope is that we’ll be digging him up soon, so that we can take him to our new home and give him a place of honor—right-side up, and out of the dirt.