Hero of London Bridge terror attack could be canonised

London Bridge attack hero

A hero of the 2017 London Bridge attack could be made a saint, since Pope Francis has opened a new way to canonisation.

Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria, 39, became known as the ‘skateboard hero’ after he used his board to beat Islamist attackers during the Borough Market attack.

Three terrorists – who had already driven a van into London Bridge pedestrians, were wielding 30 centimetre knives and stabbing those in their path.

After seeing a man attacking a police officer and then turn his attention to a nearby woman, Echeverria grabbed his skateboard and dashed towards the terrorists.

He struck one with his skateboard, distracting the attacker. That enabled several people escape to safety.

Echeverria then saw a second man attacking a police officer. Before he could intervene, he was stabbed twice in the back and died of his wounds.

He was one of eight victims killed in the attack that left 48 injured.

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. A musical called ‘Skate Hero’ chronicles the last 24 hours of his life.

New path to sainthood

It’s possible that Echeverria could become a saint for his actions.

Pope Francis announced a fourth and new path to canonisation, known as Oblatio Vitae. This is to be used if people lay down their life to save another.

In an apostolic letter about the new path, Franics wrote: ‘The heroic offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity, expresses a true, complete and exemplary imitation of Christ.”

The Echeverría family has been asked if they would like Ignacio to be considered as a candidate for sainthood.

Echeverría’s father, described his son as ‘an ordinary person who always stood up for what he believed in – which included standing up to terrorists if he was caught up in an attack.

“I would like Ignacio’s death to be useful,” Echeverría’s father said.

“I trust he is already in heaven but if his death helps other people who ask for his intercession, what he did was worthwhile.”

The canonisation process has 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.

Anyone who knew him is being encouraged to give statements to religious authorities to help back up his bid for sainthood.

‘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 father said.

“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.”


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