Hyacinth, St.

views updated


Apostle of the Slavs, patron of Poland; b. Duchy of Oppeln, between Breslau and Cracow, Silesia, before 1200; d. Cracow, Aug. 15, 1257. His Polish name, Jacek, is a form of John; his family (Odrawaž) belonged to the nobility. He studied at the University of Cracow and perhaps also at Bologna. The traditional account of his entry into the Order of Preachers relates that he and Bl. Ceslaus (either his brother or his cousin) accompanied their uncle Ivo Odrawaž to Rome, where he was to be consecrated bishop of Cracow. There they witnessed St. dominic's miraculous resuscitation of a young man who had been killed by a fall from his horse. Both Hyacinth and Ceslaus became dominicans in Rome (c. 121718). The earliest biography of Hyacinth was written a century after his death by stanislaus of cracow. Subsequent accounts are more like sagas than sober historical records. Although it is certain that during his time the Dominicans carried on extensive missionary activities, the exact details of Hyacinth's career have not been established. Tradition credits him with the founding of numerous convents (e.g., at Cracow, Danzig), and missionary journeys of thousands of miles on foot, preaching in many countries, including Lithuania, Bohemia, Denmark, Greece, Russia, Tatary, and Tibet, besides his native Poland. Among the miracles attributed to Hyacinth are the crossing of rivers dry-shod, restoration of sight to the blind, and the raising of the dead. Hyacinth was celebrated for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin; he died on the feast of the Assumption. He was canonized in 1594.

Feast: Aug. 17.

Bibliography: stanislaus of cracow, De vita et miraculis sancti Jacchonis (Hyacinthi) Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum in Monumenta Poloniae historica, 6 v. (Lvov 186493) 4:818903. Année Dominicaine (Lyons 1898) Aug. 2:613646. b. altaner, Die Dominikanermissionen des 13. Jh. (Habelschwerdt 1924), best modern study. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 3:338339. r. j. loenertz, "La Vie de S. Hyacinthe ," Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 27 (1957) 538. m. f. windeatt, Northern Lights: The Story of Saint Hyacinth of Poland and His Companions (New York 1945).

[m. j. finnegan]