Saint "Someone" statue in woods behind my new house?

Tony2ToesApril 12, 2013

So we just bought a personal (non-investment) home in rural St. Louis county in Missouri. It sits on several acres of land, most of it wooded. While walking the survey lines to determine my boundaries, I ran across a small (3 foot or so) statue of what looks like a Franciscan monk.....that ring of hair below the tonsured scalp, etc. Not sure what its doing out here. Doubt its a grave as it is sitting on top of a large bedrock outcropping.

I've heard that people of the Catholic faith often believe that placing statuary of certain saints brings luck/prosperity/blessings to the home. I'm not catholic so have no idea who this is.

Anyone know what this might be?

This post was edited by Tony2Toes on Fri, Apr 12, 13 at 13:41

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Probably St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint to animals & the environment.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:07PM
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Without even touching on what certain religious groups may or may not believe, and without a photo, it would only be a guess but statues of St. Francis, patron saint of animals and the environment, could be often found in gardens.

You could have a pets grave site, or an actual grave (twice in his 40 yr forestry engineering career, DH has found real graves not known to the landowners), or just a quiet place someone once enjoyed visiting to reflect and gather their thoughts.... 'let me sow love', part of the prayer of St. Francis.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:10PM
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Could be St Francis (often found in gardens) or St Joseph (who some people think magically manages to sell their house for them).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Raining a bit now but I'll grab a picture of it and post.

Thanks all! I called the owners of the property and they've lived there the entire time the home was built, but the woodland behind the house wasn't traversed (they were elderly and one of them handicapped).

Guess it could be a pet grave but not sure I want to start digging it up....not even sure WHERE to dig.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 5:16PM
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As a Catholic, I wouldn't say Catholics believe it brings them luck! I suppose some ill-informed might believe so, but they would be wrong. Statues and paintings of saints are merely the way of remembering/honoring a saint the same as you would remember a famous person or well-loved family member.

It's more than likely a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. There is a statue of him in his hometown of Assisi, Italy, that always has doves nesting in his arms. It may have started miraculously or coincidentally, but today the friars encourage the doves to stay there all the time--and they do. I saw the doves nesting on the statue myself several years ago.

One of the famous stories is that St. Francis, so full of the love of God, started preaching to the birds about God. The birds all sat silently to listen but then rose up in a huge chorus of song. There's a famous Giotto fresco memorializing the event. So this is probably where the tradition of having St. Francis statues in the garden comes from. Most of them have some sort of dish for feeding birds attached.

St. Anthony of Padua is also connected with animals (he preached to fish when the people of the town wouldn't listen to him), but I don't see many outdoor statues of him. He would have the same Franciscan habit and tonsure, but is almost always depicted holding the Child Jesus.

The other popular saints for gardens is St. Fiacre (Irish extraction, moved to France)--but he would be wearing a hood. He's the patron saint of gardeners.

At any rate, I would guess that someone buried a pet and put the St. Francis statue over it.

Here is a link that might be useful: St. Francis preaches to the birds

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:42PM
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St. Joseph. Buried face down, head pointing toward the house. buried to help sell the house.

I learned this as a Catholic St. Louis.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 7:37PM
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But that's obviously not what he's found. And it's very wrong-thinking of any Catholic to do such a thing!

I was just listening to a Catholic radio program where someone called in about being advised to do that, and the hosts agreed that it makes them cringe to see those "St. Joseph Home Selling Kits" in Catholic book stores and elsewhere.

That's pure superstition and does no honor to the memory of St. Joseph! Yikes.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:25PM
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I agree that it's probably St. Francis. I've considered getting one, just because I think the statues are attractive.

BTW, we FINALLY sold our house last year. I buried a St. Joseph statue, but he was really slow acting cause it took about 2 years after I buried him to finally sell.

No, I'm not Catholic.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:55PM
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"As a Catholic, I wouldn't say Catholics believe it brings them luck"

Actually they do... and plenty of $$ changes hands selling those statues for the sole purpose of burying them!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 10:44PM
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LuAnn, just because some people wrongly make money on this superstitious practice doesn't mean that Catholics as a whole look on statues as lucky. There's a huge difference between what the Catholic Church teaches and what some people who call themselves Catholic actually do.

If you look up section 2111 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church under the heading "You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me," it says,

"Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition."

A Catholic who truly believes the teachings of the Church--and I'll freely admit that there are many who don't but still call themselves Catholic--would never believe that a statue (or anything else) brings them luck.

Please don't make general statements about what Catholics do or do not do. I for one already disprove your generalization--and so do my family members and friends who would also disagree with your statement.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 11:12PM
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From Catholic online....

Now, what does the Catholic Church specifically teach about such practices as burying a St. Joseph statue to sell a home? Interestingly, because the Church in her wisdom understands her own roots and teachings, and has great confidence in her people, neither agrees nor disagrees with such practices. Essentially the Church says, although these are my words and not hers, âÂÂWhen you abide by the practices of our faith and never cross into superstition induced behavior, it could make perfect sense to bury a statue because it isnâÂÂt the act of burying the statue that you see as having value and benefit but, instead, the intercession of St. Joseph, whom you rightly call upon for help. These things that move you towards a deeper relationship with God and an understanding of His commands can be good for you. They can help you grow in your faith.âÂÂÃÂ

Here is a link that might be useful: Article/ St. Joseph statue

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:27AM
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I know the OP didn't expect this to become an argument over Catholic practices, but I'll just say about the above article (written by a Catholic laywoman with no teaching authority in the Church) that it IS possible you could bury St. Joseph upside down and not be practicing superstition, but I would find it pretty hard to separate the two. Whenever we have house-related problems (buying, selling, major repairs), we ask St. Joseph to help us just as I would ask my dad for help if he were still alive. He always comes through!

But T2T, I hope you will post a photo of the statue you found!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:37AM
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"I for one already disprove your generalization--and so do my family members and friends who would also disagree with your statement."

Whether you disprove of my mentioning it or not, it DOES happen... and very frequently.

Don't shoot the messenger!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Catholicism aside, Tony, why would you consider digging? If you'd look at the property in a little different way, you now own it, and its history no matter how vague can be part of its charm. There no reason to remove traces of the past if they aren't in the way of planned projects, but rather you could be a steward of what you have acquired, as you add your own roots to the generations of living things there before you.

If I'm correctly picturing several wooded acres that sound to be some distance from the main residence, I'd leave the little saint in peace and continue to wonder who had put him there and why.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 5:25PM
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All, the statue is situated on moss- covered bedrock. There's no digging gonna happen without dynamite.

Here he is.....

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:32PM
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that is St Francis, and a beautiful one at that.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:15PM
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Thanks Sasafras....looks like everyone's earlier guesses were right!

The statue sits in a little clearing that leads up to a small cliff. It is peaceful there. Maybe I'll add a small bench down there for reflection time. And stash some tick repellant spray too! I got three on me today!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:54PM
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I'm not Catholic, but I'd be delighted to find that statue on my property.

We did find a plastic St. Joseph head down in our flower bed. Poor little guy.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:04PM
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You have a lovely St Francis... congrats!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:29PM
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What a beautiful statue. I love statuary of all kinds. I have rabbits, cats, and birds. I also have my parents' glued-together Saint Francis nestled into my back garden. Oh--and a HUGE statue of mama bear and her baby cub riding on her shoulder, which I got free from a flea market in rural Oklahoma because they wanted it off their lot!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Is that a bird on his left hand?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:58AM
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That's what I was going to ask--what's he holding? St. Francis doesn't usually hold a book, but I can't imagine who else he'd be--as far as outdoor statues go. St. Anthony often holds the book of the Gospels--but if this guy is holding a bird, then I'd say St. Francis.

But as far as St. Anthony being the one people pray to for finding lost objects, it would be kind of funny to think of this guy saying, "Hey, look what I found!"

Oh, here you go: confirmation that it's St. Francis--see the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: St. Francis with book and bird

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Just to give you more info than you probably want to know, if St. Francis is holding anything paper-wise, it's supposed to be the rule he wrote for his friars, the Franciscan Rule. See the statue of him at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The reason St. Anthony, a follower of St. Francis, holds the Book of the Gospels is because he was very learned--in fact St. Francis was a little leery about having such a learned man join his community: he wanted simple, humble souls. But he changed his mind after he heard St. Anthony preach. Then Francis allowed Anthony to start teaching his friars, deciding that such profound learning wasn't such a bad thing.

So my guess is that the lore got mixed up along with way with the statue makers and they put the book of the Gospels with St. Francis when it should have been his Rule. (But Francis definitely loved the Gospels and probably knew them by heart--he just wasn't a book-learning kind of guy.)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:08AM
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It is/was a bird. Sort of weathered down now. I found a piece of the little guy at base of statue.

Statue appears to be some kind of resin, not as heavy as cast stone.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 12:03PM
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I love your statue! St. Francis is a saint that appeals to many non-Catholics, and I like your plan for putting a bench there.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 2:37PM
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