Where I Said Mass This Morning...
This is the magnificent shrine of St Hyacinth (in Polish, Jacek) in Krakow's Dominican church. Nota bene: the kindly friar in the sacristy is very welcoming to visiting priests and speaks some English.
St Hyacinth was one of the first Dominicans and opened a priory at Krakow as early as 1228 (remember, the Order was only approved in 1216). He is best remembered for his widespread missionary labours. According to one tradition, he reached as far as China and Tibet, though we can be surer about his travels around Scandinavia and towards Russia and the Balkans. Some identify another great Dominican missionary, the Blessed Ceslaus, as his brother.
Paintings of St Hyacinth often depict the saint holding a monstrance and a statue of the Blessed Virgin. This is because of an incident during his stay at Kiev. After Mass one day he was told that the Tartars had attacked the town. The friar instantly took the Blessed Sacrament from the church and as he was leaving heard a voice: 'Hyacinth, you have taken my Son but are you leaving me?' So, he also took the venerated statue of Our Lady from the church and took the two treasures to a safe place.
I had no idea that this saint was buried in Krakow until I walked into the church. However, I'd always wanted to celebrate Mass in his honour because on his traditional feast day (17 August) four years ago I was involved in a minor car accident during a holiday in Provence that could have been more serious. I always felt that somebody was looking after the car load of three priests and I'm sure St Hyacinth played his part that day.