Title: St. Joseph Figurine
Category: Folk Object/ Ritual
Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard
Nationality: American, caucasian
Age: Upper 50s
Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO
Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)
Date of Collection: 4/08/18
The St. Joseph figurine is used primarily by Catholic home owners when looking to sell their house. The figurine is buried at the corner of the property and must be buried upside down facing the entrance to the home. The figurine is often sold along with a prayer card which the user must say the prayer on the card after burying the figure and then everyday after until the home is sold.
The figurine is meant to bring good luck and will help to sell the property faster if used correctly. After the property sells, the miniature sculpture is dug up and placed on the mantle of the next home the person moves into. The figurine should be kept on the mantle until the next home is meant to be sold and the ritual repeated.
The Saint. Joseph figurine is a Catholic saint that is known in the religion as the patron saint of workers. Saint Joseph figurines (approximately the size of 3” tall) are sold in St. Joseph home-selling kits and are sometimes even included by realtors along with “for sale” signs and newspaper ads.
The figurine and ritual grew in popularity in the late 1980s and 1990s due to the housing crisis and re-arose in popularity during the 2008 housing crisis as well. People who participate in the ritual claim that their house that had previously been on the market for months or years, sold within weeks or even days after burying the saint.
My family has participated in the St. Joseph figurine ritual in every occasion where we’ve sold our house. My family is Catholic Christian and my father is the main family member who instills our religious traditions and practices. During my lifetime, my family has sold two houses, but moved six times. In both of the times that we’ve sold houses, my father has planted St. Joseph figurines and our properties sold within a month or two of the figurine being buried. My father and mother both believe strongly in the ritual and we have the figurine sitting on our mantle beside our family clock and horseshoe.
For another version of this practice, see:
Rabiipour, Nick, et al. “The Mystery of the St. Joseph Home Selling Kit.” Get Fed, 6 Aug. 2015, www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/mystery-st-joseph-home-selling-kit/.