The most frequently emailed question I get is about a saint that you bury in order to quickly sell your house. The saint they are asking about is my patron, Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus.
The tradition has been traced to Saint Teresa of Avila who prayed that Saint Joseph would intercede to obtain land for Christian converts, and encourged her Discalced Carmelite nuns to bury Saint Joseph medals as a symbol of devotion, consecrating the ground in Joseph's name. Remember, also, that Joseph was a man who knew about moving on a moment's notice (e.g., the flight to Egypt), and providing for a home for his family. He also knows what it's like to have housing trouble (remember the manger? and being turned away from the inns?), and so is likely to be sympathetic to people with trouble getting or leaving a home.
I've seen several descriptions of the method, and even over-priced "kits" that show you how to do it. Each has a slightly different recipe. The following is a distillation of the descriptions, emphasizing the common factors.
•People today bury statues, usually small, inexpensive ones, instead of medals. The size or cost of the statue doesn't matter, and has no relation to the size or cost of the property for sale.
•Bury the statue upside down in the yard of the property you are trying to sell. I've seen a couple of versions with it upright, but upside down is by far the most common.
•The location for the burial varies, but the most common is in the front of the property, facing the house. Some favour a particular corner, and many recommend putting it next to the "For Sale" sign.
•This is the most important part: pray. Pray for Saint Joe to intervene for you. You can find some written prayers for this part (some of which seem to threaten Joseph if he doesn't get to work!), but prayer from the heart, prayer that discusses your personal situation, is much, much better.
•While some traditions say you should leave the statue in the ground after the sale, others say that once the house is sold, you dig up the statue and take it with you to the new home. That seems a much better idea to me. Seems friendlier, more honourable, and is a great reminder to yourself (and the people you will unquestionably show it to) of the power of your prayer, and the closeness of our friends in heaven.
Does this work? I have received follow-up email from people who tried it - and it worked! It has a great tradition, one that would not have continued if it didn't work. And it's really just a function of prayer - and that always works.