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.