Feast Day : August 17
Also known as: the Apostle of Poland; the Apostle of the North; the Polish St. Dominic
Hyacinth was born in Oppeln, Silesia, which belonged to Poland. He studied at Cracow, Prague and Bologna, earning the degrees of doctor of laws and divinity. Returning home, he went to work as an administrative assistant to the bishop of Cracow. In 1218 he went to Rome with his uncle, Yvo, who had been appointed bishop, and his brother, Ceslas. In Rome they met St. Dominic, and Yvo asked the saint to send friars to Poland. None of the Dominicans knew Polish, however. Hyacinth and Ceslas were inspired to join Dominic’s order, and received the habit from Dominic himself. Hyacinth was appointed superior of the Dominican mission in Poland. They preached along their way home and attracted new members. Hyacinth was an effective preacher and was devoted especially to Mary. He was hugely popular in Cracow. He traveled throughout northern Europe, the Baltic, Scandinavia, Lithuania, Russia, China and Tibet. He was known as a wonder-worker and his sermons and miracles attracted many converts. On three occasions he reportedly was witnessed walking on water. Once in Moravia, Hyacinth was traveling with three companions to Wisgrade. They reached the Vistula River; on the other side were about 400 persons waiting for them. Hyacinth made the sign of the cross and walked across the water. Another such incident took place in Russia. On another occasion Hyacinth was at a convent that was being threatened by invading Tartars, who set the building on fire. Hyacinth hurried to hide the Blessed Sacrament, when he heard the Blessed Virgin Mary telling him not to leave her statue behind to be desecrated. The statue was quite heavy and Hyacinth doubted he could move it himself. Mary told him she would lighten the load. He then picked up the statue with one hand, held the Blessed Sacrament in the other, and fled the convent. He walked across the Dnieper River to safety. Hyacinth died in Cracow on August 15, 1257.