The only Pole whose figure is among the 140 stone saints peering down on St. Peter's Square from Bernini’s colonnade. He was also the first Pole to join the Dominican order. Traces of his devotion have survived all over the world – including in names of American towns, such as San Jacinto.
Although he came from the wealthy Odrowąż lineage, Hyacinth chose the mendicant Order of Preachers. This happened during his stay in the Eternal City, when he was already well into his thirties. There he saw St. Dominic raise a relative of one of the cardinals, who had fallen from his horse, from the dead. Soon after, Hyacinth left for Poland – not on horseback, but humbly on foot through Italy, the Alps, the Czech Republic, and Silesia, establishing Dominican communities along the way. In total, Odrowąż is credited with establishing more than thirty monasteries! He came to Krakow in 1222, where the Dominicans received the wooden church of the Holy Trinity.
He was a tireless missionary, preacher, and minister; one of the most prominent figures of the European Middle Ages. According to tradition, he performed many miracles both in life and after death. For example, he walked upon the rolling waves of the Dnieper and restored the sight of the daughter of the prince of Kiev. Like St. Dominic, he raised the dead.
But most importantly, his miracles suggest sincerity and mercy toward every human being. When hail was damaging grain in a field in Kościelec near Krakow, thanks to St. Hyacinth, the fields rose and the residents were no longer threatened by hunger. And when a woman came to his tomb, still located in the Basilica of the Holy Trinity to this day, and began to ask for help because a cow on her farm had died – the cow came back to life. Funny? Not at all. For poor people, a cow constituted their entire life’s wealth. Moreover, as explained by Dominican Fr. Tomasz Gałuszka, St. Hyacinth wants to remind us that "nothing is invalid, and saints do not only deal with what is wonderful and sublime."