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Saint Hyacinth of Poland

St Hyacinth OPFeast day: 17th of August

Friar and Priest Memorial

Saint Hyacinth (Jacek) was born near Wroclaw (Breslau) in Upper Silesia, Poland, around 1185. He was ordained and became a canon of the cathedral of Krakow. On a journey to Rome in 1220 he was attracted to the Order by the holiness and preaching of Saint Dominic. In 1221 he was sent with Henry of Moravia to establish the Order in Poland. The priory of Krakow was established in 1222 and the Province of Poland in 1225. St. Hyacinth labored many years in this region and established priories at Gdarísk and at Kiel. Like so many saints of the Order he was devoted to Mary, the Mother of God. He died in Krakow on August 15, 1257.

The second reading taken from the supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers:

From the Life of Saint Hyacinth

“A new light has arisen for Poland”

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. In the beginning the maker of the universe created heaven and earth and left darkness on the face of the deep. To illuminate the darkness God said: Let there be light, and there was light. With light God illumined the cosmos. Just as God brought light into the darkness of the world, so through Blessed Jacek, who was like a shining ray of sun in Poland, God routed the darkness of sinners and with the light of faith illumined the hearts of the Polish people. Now has been accomplished what Isaiah prophesied long ago: The people, that is those on the borders of Poland, have seen a great light, that is, Saint Jacek, preacher of the doctrine of light.

When the light of day dawns, illness is alleviated, people stir from sleep, birds begin to chirp, beasts leave their lairs; likewise when Saint Jacek was sent to Poland by Blessed Dominic, the Polish people were freed from their vices, aroused from their negligence, encouraged to consider things of heaven, and set free from the power of demons. A new light seemed to arise for the Polish people, bringing joy, honor and festivity for all.

I, Brother Stanislaus, youngest lector of the Friars Preachers in Krakow, know about this light, that is, Saint Jacek. When I myself heard stories from our forebears, stories worthy of belief from those who knew Saint Jacek and lived with him, I carefully wrote down what they said in a brief and simple style for the honor of God both Three and One, who established all the saints and adorned them with inexpressible light.

May Christ himself, the King of glory, who is the splendor of the Father and figure of his substance, through the protection of Saint Jacek, prosper my work, for with the Father and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Jacek is the common form 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. For these reasons his name has spread abroad.


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