Dangerous Times in Bulgaria:
Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.
Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P.
Sign of the Passion

"I"n 1940 Bulgaria joined the Axis in the Second World War. Four years later the Soviet Union invaded Bulgaria after the retreat of German troops and subjugated the country militarily, politically and ideologically. After the death of Bishop Theelen in 1946, Father Bossilkof was ordained Bishop of Nicopolis in 1947(cathedral at left). Churches faced a new round of difficulties from government laws drafted to destroy religion.

In 1948, Bishop Bossilkov received government permission to go to Rome for his "Ad limina" visit, where he was received by Pope Pius X11. He took the occasion to visit friends and companions in Holland. Then he returned to his diocese where he began a series of missions to prepare his people for the religious persecution they were certain to face. In 1949, the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria was expelled, and new steps were taken by the government to crush the Catholic Church and create a national church in its place. Laws were passed expelling all foreign missionaries, confiscating Church property and institutions, suppressing religious congregations and dispersing their members.

house at SophiaIn 1950-51 the noose of persecution tightened until in 1952 mass arrests of church leaders began. Bishop Bossilkov was seized July 16, 1952, while on vacation at a house outside Sophia (right). Arrested at the same time as Bossilkov were 40 other priests, some religious and lay people. On August 8th, Father Fortunato Bakalski, superior of the Capuchin community of Sophia, was arrested.

Confined to prison in Sophia, Bishop Bossilkov was physically and mentally tortured to make a confession. On September 20, the party newspapers published accusations against him on their first page. A dummy trial was conducted from September 29th to October 3rd. A witness at the first courtroom session, K. Drenikov, described the scene.

On a large table there were "proofs" of guilt. There were two pistols, which were taken from the Catholic college in Sophia, where they were conserved as museum pieces. Also there was an old radio transmitter that, according to the judges, was used to transmit coded messages to foreign sources. Bosillkov was presented as "chief" of an subversive Catholic spy organization.

The trial ended with a guilty verdict.

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Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.

his life
testimony of his niece
the Holy Father's remarks
the Superior General of the Passionists
steps toward beatification
on martyrdom