Today we remember Blessed Eugene Bossilkov in the Passionist calendar. He was a Bulgarian bishop executed by the Communists on November 11,1952 after a mock trial in Sophia, Bulgaria. His body was thrown into a lime pit outside the prison and has never been recovered. The Communist persecution of Christians in Bulgaria was especially brutal and harsh, and his death was not confirmed until 1975, when a Bulgarian minister visiting the Vatican was asked by Pope Paul VI what happened to Bishop Bossilkov.
He was declared “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II on March 15,1998 in Rome. You can find his story here.
We have a letter here in Union City which he wrote in 1940 to an American Passionist, Fr. Frederick Harrer, then the rector of St. Michael’s Monastery. The 2nd World War had started and Eugene, then a missionary in Bulgaria, asks for help as his contact with Holland has been cut off. “It is a hell of a time,” he says, “nowadays nobody knows what the day of tomorrow will bring! I hope in the meantime not to die somewhere in the trenches.”
Evidently, Fr. Bossilkov collected stamps for Fr. Harrer. “I have many stamps gathered for you, but don’t dare send them fearing they will get lost. If you get this letter tell my friends I am still alive and try yourself to answer.”
The Bulgarian Passionist, who didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, faced some hellish days indeed until his cruel death twenty-two years later. I’m sure one of his American friends sent him some help to keep him going, unaware that he was helping a martyr of Christ.