By Kim RendfeldWhen my husband and I decided to sell our house in a small Indiana town, I buried a 3-inch-tall statue of Saint Joseph upside-down close to the front door, even before the for-sale sign went up. Nine years ago, he had sold our rural home just in time to avoid our paying two mortgages, and this Protestant was counting on a repeat performance.
|By Peter Paul Rubens, 1615|
(public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)
There is no way to tell if the story is truth or invention, but it is plausible. Saint Joseph was important to Teresa. She had coped with illness throughout her life, and she believe Saint Joseph’s intercession allowed her to recover enough to pursue her calling. She named her first convent after him.
Another possibility is that long-ago German workmen put a statue in the walls or foundation of the homes they were building. The assertion has a ring of truth to it. In folk tales, children are walled up in the basement as an offering to the gods. If such a practice existed, the Church would have encouraged a Christian symbol like a cross or saint’s medal be substituted, as is did for healing spells and other pagan riutals.
Perhaps burying the statuette is a variation of medieval Christian conquerors planting a cross or banner in new territory. Or it might have something to do with a figure of Saint Anthony being held for ransom upside-down until he found a match for someone’s daughter.
|Photo by Kim Rendfeld|
A few days ago, my husband and I closed on the house we’re selling, and Saint Joseph came out of the ground. Now if you will excuse me, I must get back to packing.
“When It Takes a Miracle to Sell Your House: Owners, Realtors Bury Statues of St. Joseph to Attract Buyers; Don't Forget to Dig Him Up” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 30, 2007
“Property Rites,” Snopes
“How the Tradition of Using a Saint Joseph Statue to Sell Home Got Started,” Saint Joseph Statue
“St. Joseph, Real Estate Agent?” Fish Eaters
"St. Teresa of Avila" by Benedict Zimmerman, The Catholic Encyclopedia,
“Carmelite Chronicles: Teresa’s Ideal of the Carmelite Life” by Fr. Joachim Smet, Order of Carmelites blog,
The Cross and the Dragon and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, and is working on Queen of the Darkest Hour. For more about Kim and her fiction, visit kimrendfeld.com or her blog, Outtakes. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.