I recently asked some locals of Tuguegarao City, “Who is the patron saint of Tuguegarao?” All but one of my respondents got it wrong.
It’s not Saint Peter and/or Saint Paul.
The city honors its patron saint, Saint Hyacinth of Poland or San Jacinto de Polonia whose church (commonly known as “Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto”) is located near Saint Paul University in the Centro. In celebration of the city’s 293rd patronal festival, here are 10 things you should know about the polish saint.
- His official feast day is August 17.
The city celebrates fiesta in honor of San Jacinto every August 16 through the Afi Festival (Fire Festival), formerly Pav-vurulun Festival. But the saint’s official feast day is actually every August 17. His death is said to be August 15, 1257. This means he died at age 72. This means that the city celebrates his feast day in between his death anniversary and his supposed feast day.
- He is known by many names
We call him locally as San Jacinto but in other places, the polish saint is known as the “Apostle of the North”, “Apostle to Poland”, “Hyacinth of Cracow”, “Jacek”, “Jacek Odrowaz”, “Jacynthe”, and simply, “Jacinto.” Whatever you may call him, you can count on San Jacinto to intercede for your prayers.
- He was born into nobility
San Jacinto’s father came from the noble family of Odrowacz. It is said that he was born in the castle of Lanka at Karim, Silesia in 1185. His parents also selected teachers that preserved his innocence to uphold his religious values. Because of this, he took his higher studies at Cracow, Prague, and Bologna.
- He was a ‘Doctor of Canon Law and Divinity’
During his time, expertise to religious teachings of the church was met with the highest regard by people. Because of his moral upbringing brought about by his noble social stature, wherein his parents selected best teachers for him, Saint Hyacinth went on to study, become a priest, and eventually became Doctor of Canon Law and Divinity, the doctoral-level terminal degree in the studies of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church. This title is said to have been merited by the saint when he was in Bolognia.
- Saint Hyacinth performed numerous miracles
San Jacinto is most known for a miracle during the Tartars’ siege of the city of Kiev in 1240. Saint Hyacinth was believed to be celebrating the Mass and was unaware of the attack until the Mass ended. The saint took the ciborium and was fleeing the church when he passed by a statue of Mary. He apparently heard a voice saying, “Hyacinth, my son, why dost thou leave me behind? Take me with thee and leave me not to mine enemies.” This prompted him to carry the Holy Mother’s statue made of heavy alabaster in his arms, keeping it away from danger with townsfolk. Later, he led the people into crossing the Dnieper River. His footprints were said to have remained on the water even after. Centuries later, when the stream was calm, it is said that his footprints can still be seen.
- He travelled almost all of Europe
Saint Hyacinth’s ministry involved a lot of journeys. Aside from preaching in Poland, he also reached Rome where he met Saint Dominic. He founded communities at Sandomir, Cracow, and at Plocko on the Vistula in Moravia. He also had his missionary work in Prussia, Pomerania, Lithuania, and crossing the Baltic Sea to reach Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He also went to Pomerania, Lithuania, Scotland, Turkey, Greece, and even Russia. Because of this, he earned the title “The Apostle of the North.”
- He was warned of his coming death
It is said that on the evening of the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, he was warned of his impending death. Despite this, he attended Mass of the Feast of the Assumption. He even got anointed at the altar, and died the same day in 1257. Another account stated that, because of his laborious travels, he fell ill, leading to his death. He had spent his last few months in a convent he founded at Cracow. In 1594, he was canonized by Pope Clement VIII.
- The oldest church bell in the far east (Camalaniugan ) is dedicated to him
Another town in Cagayan is dedicated to San Jacinto. The northern church in the town’s barangay Sapping houses the oldest church bell in the far east, the Sancta Maria. It is believed to have been forged in 1595, a year after the saint was canonized. It can be found on its belfry along with three other bells: the San Jacinto Bell (forged in 1792), the Nuestra Senora de Nieva y Santa Barbara Bell (1822), and the Santiago Apostol Bell (1879).
- San Jacinto de Ermita is over 100 years older than the cathedral
Saint Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral never fails to captivate parishioners and visitors. However, the “Ermita de Piedra” which is dedicated to San Jacinto is more than a hundered years older than the majestic cathedral. The now elevated chapel’s original construction can be traced back from 1604. It was but a stone chapel then, dedicated to San Jacinto. Father Bernabe de la Magdalena initiated its reconstruction in 1724. It was later reconstructed after World War II. Meanwhile, the cathedral’s construction started in 1761 and completed in 1768. This makes Ermita approximately 164 years older than the cathedral.
- He is the patron saint against drowning
Tuguegaraoeños pray through San Jacinto for prosperity and gratitude to God for the bountiful year. Yet, he can also be invoked when in the danger of drowning. He shares this patronage with Saint Radegunde and Saint Adjutor of Vernon among others. After all, Tuguegarao is also related to water, aside from fire. The city is mainly composed of Ibanags or “people of the river.” The city is cut through by the mighty Cagayan River which further flows to its tributary, the Pinacanauan River in the east.
Having known these, I now ask you, “Who is Tuguegarao’s Patron Saint?”