A hero of the London Bridge attack who saved people before being stabbed to death could be made a saint after the Pope opened up a new way to canonisation.
Ignacio Echeverria, 39, became known as the ‘skateboard hero’ after he used his board to beat Islamist attackers during the 2017 Borough Market attack.
The fearless Spaniard ran towards terrorists who were roaming the busy market wielding 12-inch knives and stabbing revellers in their path.
While cycling to a skate park to meet friends on June 3, 2017, he saw a man attacking a police officer and then turn his attention to a nearby woman.
The HSBC financial crimes analyst got off his bicycle, grabbed his skateboard and dashed towards the terrorists.
Ignacio Echeverria, 39, became known as the ‘skateboard hero’ after he used his board to beat Islamist attackers during the Borough Market attack in 2017
He struck one with his skateboard, distracting the attacker and allowing several members of the public to escape to safety.
Mr Echeverria then saw a second man attacking a police officer, so he turned towards him but was stabbed twice in the back by two other terrorists and he died of his wounds.
Ringleader Khuram Butt carried out the atrocity with accomplices Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba.
In total, eight victims were killed and 48 injured when three terrorists in fake explosive vests drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, then ran on foot into Borough High Street.
After heading south over the Thames in their vehicle, they knifed passersby – many of whom had gathered in the busy area for the Champions League final – until they were shot dead by armed police who arrived at the scene within eight minutes.
Mr Echeverria was posthumously awarded the George Medal by Queen Elizabeth and was given Spain’s Order of Civil Merit for his heroics.
Skate parks in Spanish cities Alicante and Madrid now bear his name, while a musical titled ‘Skate Hero’ chronicles the last 24 hours of his life.
Now he could also be given one of Christianity’s highest honours – to join the ranks of sainthood after a bid to canonise him was launched.
Pope Francis announced a fourth and new path to canonisation, known as Oblatio Vitae – to be used if someone lays down their life to save another.
In an apostolic letter announcing the move, the Pope said: ‘The heroic offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true, complete and exemplary imitation of Christ.’
This prompted the auxiliary bishop of Madrid, Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, to approach the Echeverría family to see if they would like Ignacio to be considered as a candidate for sainthood.
While cycling to a skate park to meet friends on June 3, 2017, Ignacio saw a man attacking a police officer and then turn his attention to a nearby woman (Pictured: Ignacio skating at an earlier time)
In total eight victims were killed and 48 injured during the terrorist attack in London Bridge
Pope Francis announced a fourth and new path to canonisation, known as Oblatio Vitae – to be used if someone lays down their life to save another
Joaquín Echeverría, Ignacio’s father, described his son as ‘an ordinary person who always stood up for what he believed in’.
Before his death, Ignacio said he wanted to stand up to terrorists if he was caught up in an attack.
His father told The Tablet: ‘He came to Madrid after the terror attack at Westminster in March 2017.
‘We were discussing the bravery of the policeman who died after being stabbed [PC Keith Palmer].
‘Ignacio said, “If I had been skating in Westminster when the attack happened, that policeman would still be alive now”.
‘I would like Ignacio’s death to be useful. I trust he is already in heaven but if his death helps other people who ask for his intercession, what he did was worthwhile.’
Joaquin announced on Twitter that the canonisation process had opened in Madrid.
After his death, the Echeverría family discovered Ignacio had given religious lessons to Spanish-speaking children at his local parish in Poplar, east London.
Joaquín also called on anyone who knew him to give statements to religious authorities to help back up his bid for sainthood.
The Islamist attackers randomly knifed passersby – many of whom had gathered in the popular area for the Champions League final (Pictured: Victims of the terror attack are treated)
The terrorists wore fake explosive vests and drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge
Ignacio saw a second terrorist attacking a cop, so turned towards him, but was stabbed twice in the back by two other terrorists
He told a Spanish newspaper: ‘We need those who knew him to explain what he was like and how they saw him – and testimonies from those who, even without knowing him, have found help in his life and death.
‘His life was exemplary in a thousand ways, and he knew how to be aware of others and resist temptations we are all subject to.
‘His example shows it is worth being decent even if it costs you your life.’
Ignacio, who was born in Ferrol in Spain’s northern Galicia region, also had law degrees from the Complutense University in Madrid and the University of the Sorbonne in Paris.