Steps Toward Beatification of Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.by Innocenzo M. Cavaglia, C.P.
In 1952, when the news came to the west from Sophia, Bulgaria, first of the condemnation, then of the execution by firing squad of the Passionist Bishop Bossilkov, there was indignant reaction to such blatant injustice on the part of a government that labeled itself defender of the workers and the proletariat (what indeed was this son of farmers from Belene anyway?). Then suddenly there emerged something else: here was an authentic Christian martyr.
Protest for the injustice and admiration for the martyr were part of the pronouncement made by Pius XII to the Catholic world in his encyclical letter The Oriental Churches (December 15, 1952). The story of the martyrdom of Bishop Bossilkov grew in time. But the entrenched totalitarian regime of the Bulgarian communists made it impossible to begin a process for canonization in Bulgaria. Officials of his Passionist community in Rome continued to gather accounts and, thanks to many admirers of the martyred bishop, were able to open the ordinary process for canonization in Italy in the present Archdiocese of Urbino-Urbania-Sant'Angelo in Vado, with the permission of Archbishop Ugo Donato Bianchi.
The process super martyrio took place from October 25, 1985 to April 7, 1992. Among the many accounts were documents from the false trial, made available after the fall of the "Iron Curtain." They only increased the evidence for Christian martyrdom.
All the accounts were then sent to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome in 1993. After studying the documentation, a discussion of the martyr and his cause by theological experts took place at a meeting on December 7, 1993, under the presidency of the Promoter General of the Faith, Bishop Alessandro Corradini. On March 1, 1994 there was a meeting of cardinals and bishops; the Relator of the Cause was Archbishop Angelo Palmas.
Both discussions were unanimously favorable to the cause of Bishop Bossilkov as a true martyr from a theological and juridical perspective. After discussing the matter twice with the Cardinal Prefect of the congregation, Angelo Felici, Pope John Paul II directed that the decree be prepared. On March 26, 1994, the decree was promulgated.
English translation of Orientales Ecclesias: On the Persecuted Eastern Church, the Encyclical of Pius XII, 15 December 1952top of page
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