A Passionist Martyr:
Eugene Bossilkov,C.P.
Bishop Bossilkov
sign of the Passion comments by José A. Orbegozo, C.P. Superior General , Congregation of the Passion

On the joyful event of the Beatification of our brother, March 15, 1998, let me quote his words to the Passionist Provincial of Holland in early 1949:

"It's written, `Remember I have told you about it beforehand (Mt. 24, 25). That quotation can now be applied to us, but we persevere. As for myself I've no tendency to hesitate and I 'm prepared for the worst. I therefore say pray, pray constantly, and though you might one day hear that the worst has happened, continue to pray. The shedding of our blood will open the way to a glorious future and, though we won't be alive to see it, others will harvest what we've sown through our suffering. Where the mystery of evil is present there, too, is God's omnipotence as well as the prayers of the holy saints of God. Therefore we go on in all confidence... Though fearful, which is only too human, everyone is in good health... Pray for us daily, we will then be at peace".

The Passionists in Bulgaria

These words remind us that, from 1781 to the time of Bishop Bossilkov, Passionist life in Bulgaria was distinctly associated with the cross. With him, the via passionis ended at the last station, the crucifixion and death. But his beatification mirrors the resurrection that Christ communicates to his faithful servants and offers hope for the future for our own religious and the Catholic faithful of that nation. His words expressed the hope that: "The shedding of our blood will open the way to a glorious future and, though we won't be alive to see it, others will harvest what we've sown through our suffering."

Bishop Bossilkov's words tell us that his faithfulness to Christ and to his Church were the fruit of continually keeping in mind the memory of Christ Crucified, the Good Shepherd, who gave his blood for the sake of humanity. In his first pastoral letter, he affirmed his desire to remain faithful to the mandate he received at his consecration, never betray the truth "neither under threat nor through flattery"; and he remained faithful unto death.

The message of our Bishop Bossilkov for the Church today, for the Congregation of the Passion, and for the world, is a compelling invitation to be faithful to Christ, even at the cost of giving up one's life. An invitation to live the memory of Jesus Crucified, to live a life offered for the good of each individual which, in the Passionist is the source of inspiration for his spending his life for others, even to the point of death. This was the fervent hope of St. Paul of the Cross when he wrote, " Dead to self, let the religious be so disposed to receive the seal of divine grace that, hearts filled with the love of God, they may undertake great things for His glory and the defense of the Church, notwithstanding the effort or labor involved, and even at the cost of their lives".

Eugene Bossilkov, as a Christian and a Passionist, in times when fidelity to Christ demanded heroism, turned to Jesus in Gethsemane, in his own personal prayer and calling on the prayer of his friends,to beg strength to fulfill the will of the Heavenly Father in his daily life and to become the grain of wheat which must first die before flowering and feeding the life of others.

On 1st February 1950, he wrote,

"What God has prepared for us is always for the good. Ah, that grain of wheat which is buried, must die! No, it doesn't shed tears, for it is conscious of its potential to flower and to bear fruit a hundredfold".

On 28th January 1949, he confesses, the situation "at times weighs heavily upon me, but these moments are rare, perhaps my nerves are on edge". Among his many concerns was how to substitute for the foreign missionaries who were forced to leave. Asking remembrance in prayer, he wrote,

"A time of great trial, almost insupportable, but is not this the guarantee for the future? The seed must die! I was happy to read you spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for our intentions".

The Spirit of Resurrection

The spirit of the Resurrection touches us on the occasion of the Beatification of Bishop Bossilkov. Therefore let us be united in prayer, so that in Bulgaria, and throughout Eastern Europe, and in every country where the Congregation is present, let each Passionist announce with ever greater courage, enthusiasm and living witness the One who is Love Crucified, Christ Jesus, who died and rose for us.

email questions or comments
about this page to Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.

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