Posted in DOMINICAN OP, DYING / LAST WORDS, PATRONAGE - Against DROWNING, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Hyacinth OP (1185-1257) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Hyacinth OP (1185-1257) ) Confessor, Priest. “Apostle of Poland” and “Apostle of the North” also known as “the Polish St Dominic.

Saint Hyacinth, Confessor
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

St Hyacinth, a great ornament of the celebrated Order of Preachers, was born in Poland. He was the son of illustrious parents, who educated him according to the dictates of Christianity. During the years devoted to his studies, he was an example of innocence, piety and industry. His uncle, the Bishop of Cracow, appointed him Canon in his Cathedral, so that he might employ him in the administration of his See. When he left for Rome, on account of troubles at home, he took Hyacinth with him. St Dominic, so celebrated for his apostolic zeal and for the miracles he wrought, was also in Rome at the time. Hyacinth, observing the wonderful zeal and piety of this holy man and of his companions, felt a growing desire to join them. He and three of his fellow-travellers, who had the same inclination, went to St Dominic and begged him to receive them into his newly founded Order. The Saint received them willingly and instructed them how to lead a religious life, to preach in a Christian spirit and to labour successfully for the spiritual welfare of men. After a few months, the holy founder had so thoroughly imbued them with his spirit that he did not hesitate, after they had taken their vows, to send them into their native country, to preach the word of God and promote the salvation of souls.

At Cracow, where Hyacinth had formerly preached, by his edifying life, he now began to preach with words and God gave them such power that he reformed the most hardened sinners, induced others to become more zealous in the service of the Almighty and animated all, to be more solicitous for the salvation of their souls. That all this might have a more solid foundation, he gathered a number of spiritual co-operators about himself and, having instructed them, according to the maxims of St Dominic, he established a Dominican Monastery at Cracow. Hyacinth, who had been chosen Superior by the new members, was an example to all. Besides the prescribed fast-days of his Order, he fasted all Fridays and vigils, on bread and water. The greater part of the night he passed in fervent prayer, before the Blessed Sacrament. He allowed himself only a very short rest on the bare floor and scourged himself severely every night. The whole day was occupied with hearing confessions, preaching, visiting the sick and similar pious exercises.

He had particular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin and never undertook anything before offering his work to God and begging the assistance of His Blessed Mother. She appeared to him once, on the eve of the Feast of her Assumption, saying to him: “Be assured, my son, that thou shalt receive everything thou askest from my Son.” The comfort these words afforded the holy man, may be easily imagined. He, however, asked only for what was necessary for the salvation of souls. His own and his companion’s pious labours were all directed to the same end.

When he thought that he had firmly established religious principles and practices among the inhabitants of Cracow and the whole Diocese, he sent his preachers to different places to labour in the same manner. He himself, also left Cracow and it is astonishing, how many Countries he journeyed through, how many Convents he established everywhere for apostolic labourers, how many souls he converted to the true faith or to a more virtuous life. To aid his pious endeavours, God gave him power to work miracles and so great was their number, that he might well be called the Thaumaturgus, or wonder-worker of his age.

A miraculous event occurred in Russia, when the Tartars stormed Kiow, where the Saint had founded a Church and Convent. He was standing at the Altar when they entered the City, spreading destruction and desolation around them. After finishing the Holy Sacrifice, the Saint, still in his Priestly robes, took the Ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament and telling his Priests to follow him without fear, he went towards the Church door. When passing a large alabaster statue of the Blessed Virgin, before which he had often said his prayers, he distinctly heard a voice saying: “My son Hyacinth, wilt thou leave me here to be at the mercy of my enemies?” The Saint’s eyes filled with tears. “How can I carry thee? ” said he; “the burden is too heavy.” “Only try,” was the response; “my Son will assist thee to carry me without difficulty.” The holy man with streaming eyes, took the statue and found it so light that he could carry it with one hand. Thus, carrying the Ciborium in one hand and the statue in the other, he and his companions passed through the enemy unassailed, to the gates of the City. Not finding any soldiers there, they passed on and reached Cracow in safety.

Whether Almighty God made His servants invisible to the Tartars on this occasion, or in some other manner prevented them from harming them, is not known but, it is a fact that they left the City unmolested. When they reached the river, over which there was no bridge, nor a boat to convey them across, the Saint, trusting in the power of Him Whom he carried in his right hand and, in the intercession of her whom he held in his left, fearlessly stepped upon the water and crossed it with dry feet.

A similar and perhaps, still greater miracle occurred at another time. He was going to Vicegrad to preach but, on reaching the river, found no vessel which he could use to reach the opposite bank. Spreading his cloak on the water, he sat upon it and was floated safely across and brought his companions over in the same manner. By this and many other miracles, God glorified His servant even on earth.

For forty years this holy man had laboured for the salvation of souls, when, in 1257, it was revealed to him that he should assist, in Heaven, at the triumph of the Blessed Virgin, on the Feast of her glorious Assumption. On the Feast of St Mary ad Nives, he was taken ill. On the eve of the Assumption, he gave his last instruction to the Priests of his Order, after which, he prepared for the festival and,, having recited the Office of the day, he fixed his eyes on Heaven and said the psalm, “In thee, O Lord, have I hoped,” to the words, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” when he calmly expired, at the age of 74. The innocence and chastity which he possessed at the time of his Baptism, remained unspotted until the end.

After his death, the miracles which the Almighty continued to work through this Saint, were the means of proclaiming to all the world, the sanctity and merits of His blessed servant.

More about St Hyacinth:
https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/saint-of-the-day-17-august-st-hyacinth-o-p-apostle-of-poland-and-apostle-of-the-north/

The life of St Hyacinth
Posted in DOMINICAN OP, PATRONAGE - Against DROWNING, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Hyacinth OP (1185-1257) – “Apostle of Poland” and “Apostle of the North”

Saint of the Day – 17 August – St Hyacinth OP (1185-1257) – (born Jacek Odrowąż)  “Apostle of Poland” and “Apostle of the North” also known as “the Polish St Dominic”– Religious Priest, Confessor, Doctor of Law and Divinity, Missionary, Preacher, Miracle Worker, Mystic (1185 at Lanka Castle, Kamien Slaski, Opole, Upper Silesia (in modern Poland) – 15 August 1257 at Krakow, Poland of natural causes).   His major relics are in Paris, France.   He was Canonised on 17 April 1594 by Pope Clement VIII.   Patronages – against drowning, Camalaniugan, Philippines, Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto, Tuguegarao, Philippines, Krakow, Poland, archdiocese of, Lithuania (named by Pope Innocent XI in 1686), Poland, Lithuania.   Attributes – statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Monstrance or Ciborium.

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Called the “Apostle of Poland” and the “Apostle of the North”, Hyacinth was the son of Eustachius Konski of the noble family of Odrowąż.   He was born in 1185 at the castle of Lanka, at Kamin, in Silesia, Poland.   A near relative of Blessed 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 stipend 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 take 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 be used for a reformation of Roman nuns under Dominic’s guidance. Hyacinth and his companions were among the first to enter the convent.   They were also the first alumni of the 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, which became the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in the 20th century.   After an abbreviated novitiate, Hyacinth and his companions received the religious habit of the Order from St Dominic himself in 1220.

st dominic gives habit to st hyacinth

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 travelled back to Kraków, he set up new monasteries with his companions as superiors, until finally he was the only one left to continue on to Kraków, where he founded two houses.

His apostolic journeys extended over numerous and vast regions, he walked a total of nearly twenty five thousand miles in his apostolic travels.   Austria, Bohemia, Livonia, the shores of the Black Sea, Tartary, Northern China in the east, Sweden, Norway and Denmark to the west, were evangelised by him and he is said to have visited Scotland.   Everywhere he travelled unarmed, without a horse, with no money, no interpreters, no furs in the severe winters and often without a guide, abandoning to Divine Providence his mission in its entirety.   Everywhere multitudes were converted, churches and convents were built;  one hundred and twenty thousand pagans and infidels were baptised by his hands.   He worked many miracles;  at Krakow he raised a dead youth to life.  His progress among these hostile peoples, with their barbarous customs and unknown languages, through trackless forests, in the fierce cold of the North, can be explained as a miracle.st hyaconth op

He had inherited from Saint Dominic a perfect filial confidence in the Mother of God;  to Her he ascribed his success and to Her aid he looked for his own salvation.   Early in his mission career, Our Lady appeared to Hyacinth and promised him that she would never refuse him anything.   Through the years of his arduous labour she kept her promise, and his ministry was rich with a harvest of souls. He performed many astounding miracles, including countless cures. On one occasion he gave sight to two boys who had been born without eyes. He raised several dead people to life.   The best known incident in his life has to do with Our Lady, which is not surprising.

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Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Hyacinth, Ludovico Carracci (1592), in the Louvre Museum

It was at the request of this indefatigable missionary that Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote his famous philosophical Summa contra Gentiles, proving the reasonableness of the Faith on behalf of those unfamiliar with doctrine.

While Saint Hyacinth was at Kiev the Tartars sacked the town but it was only as he finished Mass that the Saint heard of the danger.   Without waiting to unvest, he took the ciborium in his hands and was leaving the church.   Then occurred the most famous of his countless prodigies.   As he passed by a statue of Mary a voice said:  “Hyacinth, My son, why do you leave Me behind? Take Me with you…”   The statue was of heavy alabaster but when Hyacinth took it in his arms it was light as a reed.   With the Blessed Sacrament and the statue he walked to the Dnieper river and crossed dry-shod over the surface of the waters to the far bank.

On the eve of the Assumption, 1257, he was advised of his coming death.   In spite of an unrelenting fever, he celebrated Mass on the feast day and communicated as a dying man.   He was anointed at the foot of altar and died on the great Feast of Our Lady.

A note on the name “Hyacinth”:   Jacek is the common form in Polish, for the name “Hyacinth.”   Literally understood, “Hyacinth” is said to derive from the hyacinth flower or hyacinth stone and thus its meaning has two interpretations.

In the first place he is called “Hyacinth,” because the flower has a stalk with a crimson blossom:   this suits Blessed Jacek well for he was a simple stalk in his docility of heart, a flower in his chastity, a crimson blossom in his vow of poverty and lack of material goods.

Secondly, he is called “Hyacinth” from the hyacinth stone, for he shines brilliantly in the way he handed on the teaching of the gospel, was resplendent in his holy way of life and most steadfast in spreading the catholic faith.