Blessed Eugene Bossilkov
Bishop, Martyr
Born November 16, 1900
Died November 11, 1952 (aged 51)
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1998, Rome, Italy by Pope Paul VI
Feast November 13
Part of a series of articles on
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498 Spanish Martyrs
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Eastern Europe
Jozsef Mindszenty  · Eugene Bossilkov
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Persecution of Christians
Church persecutions 1939-1958
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Vatican USSR policies
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Conspiracy of Silence (Church persecutions)

Blessed Eugene Bossilkov , born Vincent Bossilkov, a member of the Passionist Congregation, bishop and martyr, born November 16, 1900 in Belene, Bulgaria; died November 11, 1952. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998.


Born to a family of Bulgarian Latin Rite Catholics on November 16 1900, Vincent Bossilkov entered the Passionist Congregation at the age of 14. The Passionists are an Italian religious order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross in the eighteenth century and present in Bulgaria since 1781.[1] Vincent studied in the various Passionist houses in Holland and Belgium and took the religious name Eugene. He professed his vows in 1920 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1926. He had returned to Bulgaria in 1924 and from then had pursued his theological studies further. In 1927 he went to Rome to take his doctorate at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, where he wrote his thesis on the subject of the Union of Bulgarians with the Holy See during the early 13th century. On his return to Bulgaria he served in various Diocesan offices, but he preferred actively working with the laity. He took up a post as parish priest in the Danube valley. Here his reputation for scholarship grew and he was noted for his work with the youth of the parish.[2]

In the wake of World War II the Kingdom of Bulgaria was invaded by the Soviet Union and a new Communist government was installed by Joseph Stalin. The new regime began to enacts laws which were aimed at the destruction of religion. In the midst of all this, Eugene was appointed Bishop of Nicopolis in 1947.[3] From 1949 the attitude of the State to religious orders worsened. In the same year the Apostolic Delegate was deported, Church property was seized and religious congregations suppressed. In 1952 the mass arrests of Church dignitaries began. On July 16, Bishop Eugene was seized in Sophia. [3]


Bishop Eugene faced both physical and mental torture in prison where he was asked to confess to being the leader of a Catholic conspiracy aiming to subvert Communism. [4] At a political show trial, two guns supposedly seized from the Catholic college in Sophia were presented as evidence. In fact the pistols were part of a museum exhibit. [4] Bishop Eugene was found guilty and the official sentence against him read;

By virtue of articles 70 and 83 of the penal code, 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; completed his religious studies in Italy and was trained by the Vatican for counter-revolutionary activities and espionage. He is one of the directors of a clandestine Catholic organization. He was in touch with diplomats from the imperialist countries and gave them information of a confidential nature. The accused convoked a diocesan council in which it was decided to combat Communism through religious conferences, held in Bulgaria, activities called ' a mission.' No appeal of his sentence is possible.[5]

Eugene was executed by firing squad in the grounds of the Prison on the night of November 11 at 11:30 pm. His body was thrown into a mass grave and has never been recovered. [6] News of Eugene's death was not confirmed until 1975 when a Bulgarian minister visited the Vatican and was asked by Pope Paul VI what had happened to the Bishop[6]. Pope Pius XII had mentioned Bishop Bossilkov in his encyclical letter "Orientales Ecclesias" to the Oriental Churches in 1952. [6]


Evidence regarding the Bishop's death was collected during the 1980s and then put before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. At meetings in 1993 and 1994 the Congregation declared it was favourable to the cause of Bishop Bossilkov as a Catholic martyr from a theological and juridical perspective. On March 15, 1998 Pope John Paul II declared Bishop Eugene 'Blessed'.[6]

External links


  1. Mercurio, R: "The Passionists", page 43. The Liturgical Press, 1991
  2. Hogland, V:"A Modern Christian Martyr: Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.",
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mercurio, R: "The Passionists", page 179. The Liturgical Press, 1991
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hogland, V:"A Modern Christian Martyr: Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.",
  5. Condemnation and Martyrdom of Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Hogland, V:"A Modern Christian Martyr: Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.",
bg:Евгений Босилковru:Босилков, Евгений

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