DAILY CATHOLIC for March 16, 1998

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vol, 9, no. 53


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     VATICAN (CWN) --- On Sunday, March 15, Pope John Paul II presided at beatification ceremonies for three Servants of God: - Brigitte Morello (1610-1679) was born into a large Italian family, and her desire to enter religious life was frustrated by her mother's illness. Charged with the responsibility of helping to care for her nine brothers and sisters, she prayed instead for a happy marriage, and in 1633 she did marry Matthew Zancari. But their happy marriage ended with his death four years later; the union did not produce children. She herself fell gravely ill, and vowed that if she recovered she would devote her life to God. She founded the house of St. Ursula in Piacenza in 1649, and served the remaining years of her life-- through persistent problems with ill health-- to educate youngsters and care for the poor.

      - Carmen Salles y Barangueras (1848-1911) was born outside Barcelona, Spain, and from her youth nurtured a special devotion to the Virgin Mary. Despite her parents' desire that she should marry, she entered the entered religious life and in 1892 founded the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, seeking to fulfill her plan for "the formation of young people, using the heart to reach the intellect as well." The order she founded now boasts 60 communities in 11 countries, stretching across all of the world's continents.

      - Eugen Bossilkov (1900-1952) is the first victim of Stalinism to be beatified, as well as the first Catholic from Bulgaria-- a predominantly Orthodox population-- to claim that honor. Having been invited to visit Bulgaria, Pope John Paul II had hoped to conduct the beatification ceremony in that country, but divisions within the Orthodox Church there led to a postponement of the papal visit, and thus led to the beatification in Rome.

      Born in Belene, on the Danube, Vincent Bossilkov took the name "Eugen" when he entered the Passionist community. A promising student, he was assigned to study in Rome, where he wrote a thesis on the union between the Church in Bulgaria and the Holy See. That intellectual proposition was tested when, having become bishop of Nicopoli, he was asked by the Communist government to renounce his attachment to Rome. When he refused, he was arrested and tortured.

      Bishop Bossilkov was apparently killed by a firing squad in 1952. His surviving niece reports that at their last meeting he said, "I have the sense that the Lord has given me the grace to accept death." Because of the intense secrecy that enshrouded the Soviet death camps, his death was never officially accepted by the Holy See until 1975, when the new Bulgarian head of state, Todor Zikov, an anti-Stalinist, confirmed that he had been killed.


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March 16, 1998       volume 9, no. 53

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