An often -forgotten Polish saint with a unique connection to Mary, the mother of Jesus, is St. Hyacinth (1185-1257). According to most Catholic and historical sources. Saint Hyacinth, also known as “Jacek”, was born in 1185 in Silesia, Poland. He was well connected, as his uncle was the archbishop of Krakow. Hyacinth was renowned at an early age for the simplicity of his life and his great intellectual gifts. He got involved in the Dominican order, leading him to Rome, back to Poland and eventually onto Kiev. It was in Kiev that he became legendary. His name belies his heroic strength. As “Allgemstones” explains; “The name of the stone was due to the eponymous flower. The color of the mineral and flower isn’t similar at all. But thanks to an error of ancient authors, who thought for some reason differently, the gem received the name of the beautiful plant”.
As Rev. Michael H. Burzynski, Ph.D.writes;
“The life of Hyacinth is replete with legends. One of the major miracles attributed to Hyacinth came about from a Mogul attack on Kiev. During the Mongol assault on Kiev, St. Hyacinth and his fellow friars prepared to evacuate the city, but before leaving, St. Hyacinth headed to the church to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle. After securing the ciborium that contained the Eucharist, St. Hyacinth proceeded to exit the church, but on his way out he heard a voice. The soft, gentle voice of Mary, the Mother of God, rang in the ear of the faithful Dominican. The Blessed Mother instructed him to not abandon her in the church and to take her as well. So, St. Hyacinth promptly spun around and grabbed the enormous statue of Mary that dwelt in the sanctuary. Hoisting the stone sculpture onto his shoulder and carrying the ciborium in the other hand, St. Hyacinth marched out of the church with Jesus and Mary in tow. 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 constancy and a statute of Mary. This legend groups him with St. Christopher as the patron saint of weightlifters.
He was canonized on April 17, 1594, by Pope Clement XVIII and his feast day is usually celebrated on Aug. 17. Often his celebrations are confined to local calendars. Hyacinth is a Polish saint with a wide international following. In Spanish-language countries, Hyacinth is known as San Jacinto which is the name of numerous towns and locations in Spanish-speaking countries. He is also the patron saint of the Philippine city of Tuguegarao, where his feast day is celebrated with processions and folk- dance contests. St. Hyacinth is depicted in one of the windows of St. John Gualbert in Cheektowaga, NY, and his relics are housed in its relic chapel. Fr. Burzynski tells an anecdote about St. Hyacinth; “There is a Polish saying, "Swiety Jacek z pierogami!" (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) is an old expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to the American "good grief" or "holy smokes!" Pierogi may be the only Polish dish that seems to have its own patron saint.
St. Hyacinth’s account should not be forgotten as it is a story of the power of Heavenly inspiration; how this type of inspiration, like we see in the pages of the Old Testament, can prompt men to move beyond their usual habits, powers and attainments. This act shows his heroic faith that opened him up to this inspiration. He lived up to the Biblical principle of a faithful response to the call of God, in the pattern set forth by Mary. It also shows the intrinsic and inseparable bond between Mary and her son, Jesus.