This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3 -- Feast of Saint Hyacinth of of Caesarea

Words connote very different things over the centuries, especially when translating from one language to another.  Saint Hyacinth's role in the service of the Roman Emperor Trajan is a good example.

David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess
Most sources record that Hyacinth was the chamberlain for Trajan.  I pictured him having all the keys to the imperial household, knowing where everything was, who everyone was, and accounting for everything that happened under that roof.  The British actually have two jobs: Lord Chamberlain and Great Lord Chamberlain.  The latter is an inherited title and a very ceremonial job.  David Cholmondeley, the seventh Marquess of Cholmondeley, has held the job since 1990, which entitles him to wear this fabulous jacket, to dress the monarch on the day of her/his coronation (and serve her/him water), and to carry the Sword of State to the opening and closing of Parliament.

I was surprised therefore to read that Saint Hyacinth was twelve years old at the time of his confession of Christianity and subsequent martyrdom.  Who gives a twelve year old the sword of state?  Well, okay, Trajan never gave anybody his sword, but who appoints a twelve year old to be the master of the imperial household, whether ceremonial or for real?
the fragrant kind of hyacinth

One source offered the Latin word for chamberlain parenthetically: cubicularius.  Then it made sense.  A cubiculum is a bedroom and so the cubicularius is the boy who takes the sheets to be washed, empties the chamberpot, and sees that the wash basin has fresh water.  As if it wasn't bad enough to be named after a flower, the poor kid also had to be Trajan's Bedroom Boy. 

Saint Hyacinth - fortunately, no longer fragrant

His martyrdom was typical of the time.  All the household personnel were joining the Emperor for a sacrifice, which was also sort of a cookout.  Jupiter got a portion and then everyone else helped themselves to the remainder of the pork, lamb, or beef.  Hyacinth didn't show, but someone went looking and found him praying.  He was scourged as a Christian and dumped in jail. Sacrificial meat was offered to him, but he refused it and starved to death after a week or so. 

 His relics were kept in Cappadocia (central Turkey) for a while but were eventually translated to the Cistercian abbey church in Fürstendfeld, Germany (southern part of the country, west of Munich).

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