Pope John Paul II at the Mass of Beatification,
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on March 15, 1998

Pope John Paul IIAt the Mass of the Beatification, the Holy Father paid tribute to the martyred bishop in comments from the second reading:

"They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." I Corinthians 10, 4

The Bishop and martyr Vincent Eugene Bossilkov truly drank from the spiritual rock which is Christ. A faithful follower of the founder of his congregation, St.Paul of the Cross, he cultivated the spirituality of the Passion. He also gave himself unreservedly to serve pastorally the Christian community entrusted to him, accepting without hesitation the supreme test of martyrdom.

[He] is now a splendid treasure of the church in his motherland. A brave witness of the cross of Christ; he is one of many victims sacrificed by atheistic Communism, in Bulgaria and elsewhere, as it attempted to annihilate the church. In those days of fierce persecution, many looked up to him and from his courageous example gained the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel to the end. I am happy on this joyful day for the nation of Bulgaria to honor so many, like Bishop Bossilhov, who paid with their lives for holding on to the faith they received at baptism.

Bishop Bossilkov knew how to combine admirably in his mission as priest and bishop a deep spiritual life and a constant care for the needs of his people. Today he stands before us as an eminent figure of the Catholic Church in Bulgaria, not only for his vast culture, but also for his constant ecumenical concern and heroic fidelity to the See of Peter.

When the communist regime grew more hostile to the church, Blessed Bossilkov chose to stay with his people, even though he knew his life was at risk. He did not fear the blows of persecution. When he saw his time of testing drawing near, he wrote to the religious superior of his province:

I have the courage to go on living; I hope I also have the courage to suffer the worst, always remaining faithful to Christ, the Pope and the church."

And so this bishop and martyr, who in his life strove to be faithful to the image of the Good Shepherd, became like him in a special way at death, as he united his blood to that of the Lamb slain for the salvation of the world.

What a shining example for all of us, called to testify faithfully to Christ and his gospel! What great encouragement for the many who suffer injustice and persecution today because of their faith!

May the example of this martyr, whom we contemplate today in the glory of the blessed, deepen the faith and zeal of all Christians, especially those of the dear nation of Bulgaria, who can call on him as its heavenly protector.

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