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Hey, Matt:

Are the elves Catholic? Are elves Catholic? Oh, well. Heard there is a saint (active or defrocked, I'm not sure), that will help sell your home quicker and for a better price if you bury his image in the front yard, facing the house. Any more info, like who is that saint?

-- Cy, O'side

Great news. According to enthusiastic testimonials, you don't have to be Catholic to have this holy sales aid work for you. The St. Joseph Home-Sale Kit. Buy one on the Internet or pick one up in a religious supplies shop. For $6.98, the box contains a 3-1/2-inch plastic statue, an "introduction and background" on the saint, "the Way of St. Joseph," instructions on how to bury him, and, for those of you with no imagination, a nicely worded prayer to the saint to intercede on your behalf to make sure your house sells immediately and for lots of dough. The box has a drawing of St. Joseph standing next to a realtor's sign with a big "sold" notice across it. The house in the background looks like it might sell in the high 5s in our market.

Apparently any Joseph medal or statue will do, but you'll get no agreement about where or how deep he should be buried or which direction his head should face, only that he should be in the front yard, not the back yard. Home-seller testimonials read a little like the blurbs in chain letters. But far be it from Matt to diss a saint.

St. Joseph is patron to carpenters and guardian of the family and household, which explains why he might be inclined to intercede in the first place. There is a story that 500 years ago, more or less, St. Teresa of Avila asked her nuns to bury their St. Joseph medals in devotion when the convent needed land to expand. As a modern ritual, it's pretty much American. No surprise, eh?

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