St. Hyacinth was born to a noble family in Odrowatz, Poland. He and another close relative, Ceslaus, were dearly loved by a priest uncle, and were carefully educated in learning and piety. After becoming newly ordained priests and canons, his uncle Ivo was appointed bishop of Cracow and took the two young priests with him to Rome for his consecration.
While in Rome, the three met St. Dominic and were impressed with the ideals of the newly founded Order of Preachers. The new bishop begged St. Dominic to send friars to Poland, but he had no one to send who spoke Polish. So St. Dominic turned his eyes to the two young priests – he gave them the habit, trained them himself and then sent them North.
St. Hyacinth became known as the St. Dominic of Poland. He walked nearly twenty-five thousand miles through all the countries of the North in his apostolic preaching, surviving hostile people who spoke unknown languages, and traveling through thick, trackless forest and fierce Northern cold. He became widely known for his zeal, virtue and for performing many miracles, including raising several people from the dead and giving sight to two boys born without eyes.
He also cultivated a love for our Lady. Early in his missionary work, she appeared to him and told him she would refuse him nothing, and she kept her promise as his life and preaching ministry was rich with people converting to the Catholic faith. But the best known incident between St. Hyacinth and our Blessed Mother is depicted in the picture above. During an invasion by the Tartars, the Dominican convent was attacked. Hyacinth hurried to remove the Blessed Sacrament to keep it safe when he heard Mary ask him to not leave her statue to be desecrated by the invaders. Hyacinth was troubled – how would he carry it?! She assured him she would lighten his load. So, he hurried to the statue, hoisted it and ran, Blessed Sacrament in one hand, our Lady in the other, and the flames licking at his heels, walking straight across a river, dry-shod.
St. Hyacinth, pray for us!