Several years ago, my youngest sister had a house she owned on the market. She was hoping for a quick sale so she could move into another she was ready to buy. During a telephone conversation one day, I asked if she'd had any nibbles on the house yet. Nothing serious, yet, she said, but she purchased and buried St. Joseph to spur the process along.
I had no idea what she was talking about. St. who? Didn't St. Joseph make baby aspirin ?
We are not a Catholic family. My two sisters and I were raised in the Presbyterian church. Granted, I survived an all girls Catholic high school and wore a St. Christopher's medal on a chain as was the trend then. But still.
My sister went on to explain. St. Joseph is the patron saint of home and employment. Many believe that if you purchase a figurine of the saint and place it upside down as you bury it then you will quickly sell your house. A friend had explained the ritual to her. We were raised in Louisiana so it didn't seem so unusual to her. In Louisiana, rituals are a way of life - whether religious, southern traditions, or even voodoo. It's all ok.
So, I grinned a bit as I read an article the other day in the Houston Chronicle about the rise in sales of St. Joseph figurines. With housing sales in a slump in some parts of the country, there is a growing demand for them. Amazon, along with True Value and Ace Hardware stores has gotten into selling them in the more nontraditional religious arena.
From the article: "The interest in St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, has a history in the real estate world. During the busts of the 1980s and 1990s, agents and homeowners revived the tradition, which might date to medieval Europe. As the story goes, a group of nuns received a needed parcel of land for their convent after burying their St. Joseph medallions and praying to the saint for aid."
Today kits are sold that include the figurine, the bag to bury them in, instructions and sample prayers.