He is known in Poland as the “patron saint of pierogi.”
Commonly referred to as the “Apostle of the North,” St. Hyacinth became a Dominican after witnessing a miracle performed by St. Dominic. After his ordination he was sent back to Poland as a missionary and tradition says he preached the Gospel in Lithuania, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, possibly even going through parts of Russia. One of his primary centers of evangelization was Kraków, where he eventually died and was buried.
According to The Observer, “Hyacinth invented the pierogi during a time of famine and served the hungry plate after plate of this hearty dish.” Some stories say this famine was in Kiev and was due to a siege of the city in the 13th century.
Another legend states that during one of his missionary journeys, he reached the village of Kościelec near Kraków and discovered they were in the midst of a great famine. Linda Lum in Delishably explains the miracle that happened next.
On July 13, 1238 … Hyacinth … visited the town of Kościelec. A storm raged, destroying all of the crops, dooming the populace to starvation. Hyacinth knelt with the villagers and prayed with them for divine intervention. The next day the crops rose back from the dead. In a show of gratitude, the people of the town created for him a meal of pierogi from those miracle crops.
Either way St. Hyacinth became known as the “patron saint of pierogi” — filled sweet or savory dumplings made from unleavened dough — and a common Polish phrase has been passed down through the ages, “Swiety Jacek z pierogami!” (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!). It’s essentially the same as the English expression of “holy cow!”
St. Hyacinth is a dearly beloved saint of Poland and his pierogi remain a popular food item around the world.