Kathryn wrote:

>And I thought the Saint Joseph nonsense was restricted to New Orleans! BTW
>here he must be buried upside down. I thought this was a hold-over from our
>Voodoo days.

Not at all. Such ideas are disseminated all over the place,
especially over the internet. *That* one even turns up in gift
catalogs (which sell the appropriate statues).

Turning St. Anthony to face the wall sounds like an example of a
medieval practice that translates as "humiliating the saint" --
namely "punishing" the image or relics of the saint as a way of
"forcing" him/her to come to one's aid. There's an extended treatment
of this in Patrick J. Geary's _Living With the Dead in the Middle
Ages_ (ISBN 0-8014-2856-4). I believe burying the St. Joseph statue
is intended to have the same effect.

Other such beliefs about religious artifacts are still alive and
kicking. The most recent one I've encountered is the practice of
putting a medal of (specifically) St. Benedict on windowsills and
above doors to keep away evil. I'm curious whether it is the
protective power of St. Benedict that's being called on, or the
protection of the cross that is usually on the reverse side of this
particular medal.