Saint Hyacinth 1185 – 1257
(Memorial Day 17th August)

As any PGCE student will know, the prospect of going into a school, with very little in the way of training, is both exciting and full of trepidation. We can only imagine what it must have been like for Hyacinth and his companions, Ceslaus, his brother, Henry and Herbert, when after three months training at Santa Sabina, they had to leave the safety of the Priory and go out into the world and begin the task of preaching.

During my own time as a religious education PGCE student, the college had arranged a collaborative workshop with the drama department. Amongst the many ideas in that workshop, the one that stood out most was a lesson about refugees. One of the tasks in the lesson, which students would be asked to consider, is what item(s) would you bring with you, if the place where you lived was suddenly invaded? If you wish, you can carry out this values clarification exercise for yourself. Such an exercise is useful because it helps us to focus on what is most important in our own lives. There is also the likelihood that we will be conflicted in our choice, which might be compromised by the necessity of practical concerns. I wonder what you chose. Or, perhaps more importantly, what did you have to leave behind?

The story of Hyacinth is famous for what he carried with him from a church in Kiev, which was being attacked. He took with him a ciborium, containing the Eucharist. As he was leaving the Church, he heard a voice as he passed a statue of Our Lady asking, ‘Hyacinth, my son, why dost thou leave me behind?’ Hyacinth took the statue as well. Although the statue was of great weight, when Hyacinth carried it from the Church it was as light as a feather. Perhaps this is the reason why Hyacinth has the unusual job of being the patron saint of weightlifters. He is also the patron of people who have drowned, a role most likely given to him because he restored life to a boy who had drowned. While we can hope and even pray for such miracles, we must also act responsibly. Returning to our lesson about refugees, the plight of whom has been described as, ‘a shameful wound of our time’, we can ask, are we using our resources responsibly and acting in solidarity with those who have had to leave all behind?

Saint Hyacinth pray for us.

Karol Grobicki (North West)