You’ve fixed up your house. You’ve had your HVAC system serviced, and even repaired the intermittent faucet leak that a prospective buyer would probably never see.
You’ve painted the walls, waxed the floors, and trimmed the bushes. You’ve even scrubbed the grout in the bathroom.
You’ve strategically placed air fresheners and sachets filled with potpourri throughout the house. You’ve even planned to bake apple pies two hours before potential buyers arrive for showings.
Is there anything else you can do to help sell your house faster?
Well, if you’re Catholic – have you thought about praying to St. Joseph?
Who Was St. Joseph?
St. Joseph is somewhat of a mystery man in the Bible. He isn’t mentioned in the Epistles of Paul or the Gospel of Mark. Joseph’s name doesn’t appear in the New Testament until the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and even then, there are few details of his life or work.
Joseph was described as a descendent of King David. He apparently married the Virgin Mary before Jesus was born, making him the corporeal father of Jesus Christ. Joseph was a righteous man, and according to Matthew, when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant he planned to quietly divorce her so she wouldn’t be publicly shamed.
He changed his mind, however, when an angel came to him and told him that Mary was carrying the Son of God conceived by the Holy Spirit. He stayed with Mary, fled with her and Jesus to Egypt after the angel warned of King Herod’s plans, and returned with Mary to Judaea when Herod died.
From the Gospels and subsequent writings, it appears that Joseph was a carpenter and taught the craft to Jesus, that Joseph died before Jesus began his ministry and well before the Crucifixion – and that’s about all we know about this important figure in the life of Jesus.
In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph to be the patron and protector of the Catholic Church. St. Joseph is also viewed by the Church as the patron saint of workers, of the sick, and of a happy death (because he apparently died in the presence of Mary and Jesus).
Joseph is also considered a saint in the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Anglican Churches. His principal feast day of March 19 is celebrated as a solemnity in the Catholic Church. In some jurisdictions it’s also celebrated on May Day, as the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.
OK, But What Does St. Joseph Have To Do With Houses?
Over the years, St. Joseph has been adopted as the patron of a number of countries and cities, families, expectant mothers, fathers, explorers and travelers, immigrants – and as the patron saint of realtors, home buyers and home sellers.
It’s not certain where the connection between St. Joseph and real estate originated. Some say that as the patron saint of families, helping them sell homes and find new ones is simply part of St. Joseph’s province.
The fact-checking website Snopes.com has uncovered a number of other, more substantial possibilities:
- European nuns may have originated the practice in the Middle Ages by burying a St. Joseph medal while asking for his intercession in their attempts to purchase a convent. The tradition supposedly continued in the following centuries.
- Some German carpenters apparently buried statues of St. Joseph in the foundations of homes they built, while praying to him.
- 19th century Montreal property owners were said to have only agreed to sell their land for the construction of a chapel, after a monk began planting St. Joseph medals around the property.
Wherever and whenever the practice originated, it became an established tradition in America during the 1970s and 80s – and by the 1990s, realtors were buying St. Joseph statues for their clients in bulk. Since then, sales of the statues have risen and fallen in conjunction with the ups and downs of the real estate market; as the Great Recession was ending and home sales were booming in 2013, sales of St. Joseph statues fell by nearly 11% from their 2012 levels.
But even during good economic times, the tradition remains very much alive today.
What Is the St. Joseph Prayer Actually Supposed to Do?
Many believe that St. Joseph doesn’t just intercede on a property owner’s behalf to get a buyer to sign on the dotted line.
Some of the many ways that he is said to assist sellers:
- Keeping them organized during the sales process.
- Allowing the detection of foul odors in the home, and helping with the selection of the right candles that will obscure them without setting off potential buyers’ allergies.
- Increasing the number of showings to prospective buyers.
- Maintaining a pleasant atmosphere outside the home, quieting barking dogs and inducing birds to sing.
- Guiding the buyers through the process, to make sure they don’t back out of the purchase.
First and foremost, though, those who believe are convinced that homes sell more quickly thanks to the intercession of St. Joseph.
How Do You Pray to St. Joseph For Help Selling Your House?
It’s a two-step process.
Burying the Statue of St. Joseph
Small statues of St. Joseph, often included in a “Home Sale Kit” that includes instructions and a prayer card, are easy to find. They’re stocked in most Catholic gift shops, sold on thousands of online sites (even at Vatican.com), and some realtors have them available for clients. Some Catholic real estate agents have even been known to bury them on the properties they’ve listed without the home owner’s knowledge.
The most common practice is to bury the statue upside down and facing the home for sale, within a few feet of the “For Sale” sign. How deep? There’s no hard-and-fast rule; some sellers simply ensure that the statue is fully covered with dirt or grass, while others say it must be buried twelve inches deep. And why upside down? Some believe that it motivates St. Joseph to intercede quickly, so he can be moved from the ground onto a mantel.
In fact, there are some stories that homes sell faster if the statue of St. Joseph is lying on its back, or buried in an “important spot” to the family like the area (where they picnicked with their children). There are also tales which are either apocryphal, humorous, or both. One tells of a seller who buried the statue sideways – and the neighbor’s house was sold. Another describes an impatient seller who kept moving the statue to all different parts of his yard, got frustrated, and threw it into the trash – only to see a few days later that the local dump had been sold.
Once the statue of St. Joseph is buried, however, there’s a very specific prayer which should be said.
Praying to St. Joseph
Here’s the prayer that is recited to ask for St. Joseph’s help.
O, Saint Joseph, you who taught our Lord the carpenter’s trade, and saw to it that he was always properly housed, hear my earnest plea. I want you to help me now as you helped your foster-child Jesus, and as you have helped many others in the matter of housing. I wish to sell this [house/property] quickly, easily, and profitably and I implore you to grant my wish by bringing me a good buyer, one who is eager, compliant, and honest, and by letting nothing impede the rapid conclusion of the sale.
Dear Saint Joseph, I know you would do this for me out of the goodness of your heart and in your own good time, but my need is very great now and so I must make you hurry on my behalf.
Saint Joseph, I am going to place you in a difficult position with your head in darkness and you will suffer as our Lord suffered, until this [house/property] is sold. Then, Saint Joseph, i swear before the cross and God Almighty, that i will redeem you and you will receive my gratitude and a place of honour in my home.
Many also recommend reciting a novena for nine days, as a further sign of devotion.
Day 1: Oh God, guide of those who listen and helper of those who hear your voice, speak to me, as you did to St. Joseph, and help me accomplish the things you give me to do.
Day 2: O God, you love your people and bless the ordinary lives we quietly live. As you blessed St. Joseph, bless what I do, however, hidden and simple it may be, and let all I do be done with love.
Day 3: O God, ever faithful, you remember us always and in time reveal your blessings. Help me trust in you, as St. Joseph faithfully trusted, and never let me lose faith in the wonderful gifts you promise me.
Day 4: God of families, bless the family that’s mine. Keep us safe from harm, and never let evil come between us. Let peace remain in our hearts.
Day 5: O God, who loves children, be kind to our children today. Give them eyes of faith for seeing far, a loving heart for welcoming life, and a place always at your side.
Day 6: God of our heavenly home, bless our home on earth. Let the spirit of Mary and Joseph rest at our table, shape our words and actions, and bring blessing to our children.
Day 7: God, our Father, give your fatherly spirit to those who are fathers now. Like Joseph, give them hearts of devoted love for their wives and children and strength for forgiveness and patience.
Day 8: Give shelter, O God, to those who need it, and bring together families divided. Give us enough to eat, and decent work to earn our bread. Care for us, O God.
Day 9: Bless all families, O Lord especially those in need. Remembering the life of your Son, we pray for the poor, for those who lack a good home, for those in exile. Grant them a protector like Joseph, O God.
Is There Anything Wrong with Praying for Help with a Home Sale?
Not according to the Catholic Church, which doesn’t have an official policy on the tradition. In fact, the Church says there’s nothing wrong with good-faith prayers for just about anything. The only concern would be if people used a statue of St. Joseph as a “good luck charm,” which goes against Church teachings.
What’s important is the belief in the power of God and the power of prayer. Burying a statue is simply a symbol of those beliefs; what really matter are the heartfelt prayer for St. Joseph’s intercession, and the reliance on God’s will.
Does Praying to St. Joseph Help You Sell Your House?
Non-believers will always say “no.” Believers, on the other hand, have offered numerous stories backing up the power of praying to St. Joseph for help in their home sale. Only you will know your “own truth” about whether divine intercession has helped you find a buyer for your house.
One last thing: if you’ve buried a statue of St. Joseph, prayed him to help you sell your home, and succeeded – the statue should move with you to your new home and be placed in a prominent spot, where it will remind you of the saint’s life, love, hard work, and help.