Blessed Eugene Bossilkov:
True pastor of persecuted people
Vincent Bossilkov was born in 1900 in Bulgaria. He entered the Passionists who had served in Bulgaria since 1781 and took the name Eugene. He professed his vows in 1920. He wrote a thesis on the Union of Bulgarians with the Holy See in the early 13th century. Back in Bulgaria, he became parish priest in the Danube River valley. He was a scholar and also famous for his work among young people.
Joseph Stalin invaded Bulgaria and installed a Communist government. Soon laws were passed to destroy religious institutions. Eugene became Bishop of Nicopolis in 1947 and lived under an increasingly repressive government. Catholic property was seized and Congregations were suppressed. Eugene was a true leader and a brother to his people during the oppression.
July 16, 1952, Eugene was arrested. He suffered physical and mental torture in prison. He was told to confess to leading a Catholic conspiracy to overthrow Communism. A political “show trial” was held. ‘Evidence’ was 2 pistols from a museum. Bishop Eugene was found guilty and the official sentence read.
The Court condemns the accused, Eugene Bossilkov, to be sentenced to death by firing squad, and all his goods confiscated. Dr. Eugene Bossilkov, Catholic bishop, was trained by the Vatican for espionage. He is the director of a clandestine Catholic organization. He was in touch with diplomats from imperialist countries. The accused convoked a diocesan council to combat Communism through religious conferences called a ‘mission” No appeal of his sentence is possible.
Eugene was killed by firing squad in prison on November 11 at 11:30 pm. Thrown into a mass grave, his body was never recoved. Pope Pius XII mentioned his execution in his encyclical letter “Orientales Ecclesias” in 1952. Only in 1975 when a Bulgarian minister visited Pope Paul was his death confirmed. Pope Paul asked what had happened to the bishop. He was told that he had died in prison 23 years before!