Where is St. Joseph buried? And is it OK to bury his statue when selling a house?

March 17, 2011

Faith and Reasons

CNS photo / Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin

We know that there are no graves for Our Lord and His Blessed Mother since their bodies are obviously not on earth, but what about the third member of the Holy Family? Experts believe that St. Joseph died in Nazareth and probably was buried there.

Scripture doesn’t say much about Joseph, and none of his words are quoted. But what it does say about him reveals his virtue and holiness in caring for Mary and Jesus. Though little is known about his life, St. Joseph is powerful in heaven in part because, unlike any other saint, he played a fatherly role in Jesus’ life. He is the patron of the Universal Church.

Showing heroic faith, Joseph was humble, gentle, and dependable. He didn’t judge Mary even when he couldn’t account for her pregnancy. When he was told in a dream to flee to Egypt, he did God’s will right away, even though the journey would be difficult and he didn’t know when they could return.

“He was truly the faithful and prudent servant whom our Lord appointed the master of his household, the comfort and support of his mother, his foster-father, and most faithful cooperator in the execution of his deepest counsels on earth,” St. Bernard said.

Coming two days after the parades and fanfare of St. Patrick’s Day, the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19 is less visible in the secular world but many degrees higher in importance within the church, according to Father Joseph Gallatin, pastor of St. Peter in Mendota.

The feast day is celebrated in many countries but especially in Polish and Italian cultures. Sicilians place a statue of St. Joseph on their dining room table with flowers and candles as part of the feast they throw for anyone who comes to the door that day.

Historically, Italian and Polish Americans in some areas have hosted big celebrations on St. Joseph’s Day, partly in response to the great Irish festivities on St. Patrick’s Day. Both cultures host a feast with a St. Joseph’s statue on the table, along with decorations emphasizing their country’s colors. Italians cook with breadcrumbs to represent a carpenter’s sawdust.

As we celebrate St. Joseph’s life, we do know where some of his statues are buried: in the yards of people hoping to sell their homes quickly. Apparently, the tradition dates back to St. Teresa of Avila, who had her sisters bury St. Joseph medals as a symbol of devotion to consecrate land in St. Joseph’s name.

However, according to Father Vincent Serpa, OP, burying St. Joseph statues in hopes of a quick sale isn’t supported by the church because it’s superstition rather than trusting in God.

Praying to St. Joseph on his feast day is a better idea — at least St. Alphonsus Ligouri thought so: “For several years I have asked him, on his feast, for some particular grace, and every time my petition has been granted.”

About Susan Klemond

I'm a freelance writer who enjoys writing about the Catholic Faith, local issues and people. I love the challenge of learning about the Church and discovering the reasons behind her teachings.

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  • Ivan K.

    Small error in this assertion: “He didn’t judge Mary even when he couldn’t account for her pregnancy.”. Actually, he was terribly bothered by it, and only after an angel explained it to him during a dream did Joseph move ahead. The way the article is worded sort of implies a false impression of what Scripture tells us really happened.