Hyacinth of Poland bigraphy, stories - Polish Dominican priest

Hyacinth of Poland : biography

ca. 1185 - 15 August 1257

Saint Hyacinth, O.P., ( or Jacek Odrowąż) (b. ca. 1185 in Kamień Śląski (Ger. Groß Stein) near Opole (Ger. Oppeln), Upper Silesia – d. 15 August 1257, in Kraków, Poland of natural causes) was educated in Paris and Bologna. A Doctor of Sacred Studies and a secular priest, he worked to reform women's monasteries in his native Poland.


Called the "Apostle of the North", Hyacinth was the son of Eustachius Konski of the noble family of Odrowaz. He was born in 1185 at the castle of Lanka, at Kamin, in Silesia, Poland. A near relative of Saint Ceslaus, he made his studies at Kraków, Prague, and Bologna, and at the latter place merited the title of Doctor of Law and Divinity. On his return to Poland he was given a prebend at Sandomir. He subsequently accompanied his uncle Ivo Konski, the Bishop of Kraków, to Rome.

While in Rome, he witnessed a miracle performed by Saint Dominic, and became a Dominican friar, along with the Blessed Ceslaus and two attendants of the Bishop of Kraków - Herman and Henry. In 1219 Pope Honorius III invited Saint Dominic and his followers to taken up residence at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina, which they did by early 1220. Before that time the friars had only a temporary residence in Rome at the convent of San Sisto Vecchio which Honorius III had given to Dominic circa 1218 intending it to become a convent for a reformation of nuns at Rome under Dominic's guidance. Hyacinth and his companions were among the first to enter the convent and studium of the Dominican Order at Santa Sabina out of which would grow the 16th century College of Saint Thomas at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in the 20th century. After and abbreviated novitiate Hyacinth and his companions received the religious habit of the Order from St. Dominic himself in 1220.

The young friars were then sent back to their homeland to establish the Dominican Order in Poland and Kiev. As Hyacinth and his three companions traveled back to Kraków, he set up new monasteries. His companions were chosen to be the superiors for new monasteries founded by Hyacinth as they proceeded, until finally he was the only one left, and he continued on to Kraków. Hyacinth went throughout northern Europe, spreading the faith. He died in the year 1257.St. Hyacinth of Poland by Mary Fabyan Windeatt Tradition holds that he also evangelized throughout Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Scotland, Russia, Turkey, and Greece. However, these travels are heavily disputed and are not supported by the earliest lives of St. Hyacinth.


Hyacinth was canonized on April 17, 1594, by Pope Clement VIII, and his memorial day is celebrated on August 17. In 1686 Pope Innocent XI named him a patron of Lithuania.

In Spanish-language countries, Hyacinth is known as San Jacinto, which is the name of numerous towns and locations in Spanish-speaking countries, and of two battles fought in two of these locations.

He is the patron saint of St. Hyacinth's Basilica, in Chicago, Illinois, and of those in danger of drowning.

He is also the patron saint of the Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto in the Philippine city of Tuguegarao, where his feast day is celebrated with a procession and folk dance contests.

A town called Camalaniugan in the Philippines is also under the said saint's patronage. The town church dedicated to San Jacinto or Saint Hyacinth is home to the oldest church bell (the Sancta Maria 1595) in the Far East.

"Swiety Jacek z pierogami!", (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) is an old expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to the Amarican "good grief" or "holy smokes!". Pierogi may be the only Polish dish that seems to have its own patron saint.Polish Heritage Cooker by Robert Strybel, Maria Strybel, 2005 p. 456


One of the major miracles attributed to Hyacinth came about from a Mongol attack on Kiev. As the friars prepared to flee the invading forces, Hyacinth went to save the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle in the monastery chapel, when he heard the voice of Mary, the mother of Jesus, asking him to take her, too.

Hyacinth lifted the large, stone statue of Mary, as well as the ciborium. He was easily able to carry both, despite the fact that the statue weighed far more than he could normally lift. Thus he saved them both. For this reason he is usually shown holding a monstrance (which did not come into use until several centuries later), and a statute of Mary.

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