Blessed Eugene Bossilkov was born in Belene (Bulgaria) on 16 November 1900. He studied with the Passionists first in Bulgaria and then in Belgium and Holland. On 29 April, he made his First Profession of Vows, and on 25 July 1926, he was ordained a priest. He attended the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, graduating in 1932. When he returned to his country, he served as a pastor in Russe and in Bardarski Gheran. In 1947, he was consecrated bishop and was named the ordinary of the diocese of Nicopoli.
He was a highly educated man characterized by intense prayer. He was a famous orator and a priest of extraordinary interior depth and purity of spirit. He was well known and highly esteemed in Bulgaria as well as abroad. In his pastoral activity, Blessed Eugene was very innovative. He gave great care to the religious formation of youth, who in turn loved and respected him. In parishes, he initiated male and female sports activities and enhanced liturgical life. He organized catechetical programs, including premarital preparation programs. He was attentive to the sick and the elderly, as well as the poor. He founded cultural centers for reading, watching films and for recreation.
He served as president of several civic associations. He was well liked and respected by the Orthodox clergy, working with them constantly through respectful dialogue. He was at ease with men of learning as well as with simple and humble people. During the German occupation of Bulgaria, he saved the life of many Jewish people. The Bulgarian Catholic Church gained prestige because of his work. He was admired and held in high regard by the authorities of the State, although they were opposed to the Catholic Church.
In 1948, Pope Pius XII received him in audience. At the conclusion of his discourse, the Holy Father embraced him and blessed him saying, “In Bulgaria the crown of martyrdom is awaiting you”. To those who advised him to remain in Italy he replied, “A pastor cannot stay away from his flock. I have to suffer with my priests and the faithful.” During the devastating and ferocious Stalinist persecution, he was arrested. The government wanted him to lead a national church and asked him to alienate himself from the Pope. His refusal was definitive. After a mock trial, he was sentenced to death and was shot to death on 11 November 1952. Before he died, he confided to relatives, “I die willingly for the faith. Tell everyone that I remained faithful to God, to the Church and to the Pope”. He was beatified on 15 March 1998, by Pope St. John Paul II. “The traces of our blood”, he wrote, “assure a bright future for the Church in Bulgaria”. In 1999, the Bulgarian Supreme Court overturned Blessed Eugene’s conviction and officially recognized his innocence.
Almighty God, who bestowed upon Blessed Eugene your Bishop the grace to strengthen his flock in the faith and unity of the Church even by the shedding of his blood; grant us, we pray, that just as did not fear to die for you, we, too, may live our lives firmly confessing you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.