St. Joseph - "the home-selling saint"

St. Joseph

We are selling our house. Some of the things done to hasten this process include the usual lick of paint and, à la Jane Austen, some order has been put on “the prettyish kind of a little wilderness” at one side of the lawn.

There is a popular belief that St. Joseph, as the patron saint of the home and family, should be enlisted to help in the process. I’m not sure where this custom/superstition originates, but it involves placing a statue of the saint in the ground, ideally upside-down, facing towards the house. Methods of burying the statue vary. Once the home sells, the custom is to dig up the statue to put it in a place of honour in the new home

Most every adult in Ireland is aware of the Child of Prague and the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Monastery in Loughrea, Co. Galway offer a Confraternity in honour of the Child. Generally, the statues have a weak neck and our childhood bedroom had such a statue, though one whose head had been rescued and reattached with tape after it had fallen off. This is ok though, as an accidental beheading seems to have become part of the superstition surrounding it. The statue is generally placed outside the bride’s house to ensure good weather for weddings, for example.

Child of Prague (with head), outside of good weather/luck

In many cases, statues are found at religious sites, churches and places of veneration. Sometimes statues are found near holy wells or in small grottos at the roadside. At Tobar a Gathaigh in Co. Kerry, rosary beads, statues and sacred pictures were placed beside the north side of the holy well. This type of veneration has a context and so it is not unusual to see the small religious figures near wells and such places, alongside the medals and flowers. How upside-down St. Joseph fits in, I’m not sure.

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