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Skateboarding HSBC worker who died in Borough Market terror attack on path to canonisation 

10 February 2023

Joaquín Echeverría

Ignacio Echeverria, who died in 2017

Ignacio Echeverria, who died in 2017

THE Roman Catholic Church in Spain has begun the beatification process for an HSBC bank employee and skateboard enthusiast, Ignacio Echeverría, who was killed while attempting to save victims during the 2017 terrorist attack at Borough Market, in London (News, 9 June 2017).

“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,” Ignacio’s father, Joaquín Echeverría, explained to the Spanish RC weekly Alfa y Omega.

“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.”

The lay Catholic spoke as a beatification process was launched by Cardinal Carlos Osoro for Ignacio Echeverría, who was stabbed to death by Islamist militants during the June 2017 attack.

He said that his son had “always stood for what he believed”, adding that he hoped his death might help others improve their lives and “obtain some favour from God”.

Mr Echeverría’s former parish priest described him as “shy and deeply Christian”, and said that he had been familiar with terrorist plots from his work as a financial analyst with HSBC in London.

“He was an upright person of integrity, with very clear ideas,” the Revd Daniel Sevillano, from the San Miguel Arcángel, in Madrid’s Las Rozas suburb, told Spanish TV.

“But he was also a religious man, who went to mass every Sunday, and risked his own job on many occasions while working to prevent economic crimes and money laundering, and to ensure things were done correctly.”

Aged 39, Mr Echeverría had worked for HSBC in the City for just a year, monitoring and assessing suspicious money movements, when he witnessed the Borough Market attack with friends on 3 June 2017, and immediately intervened, using his skateboard as a weapon.

Although he drew the knife-wielding attackers away from a French victim, enabling her to escape, he was fatally stabbed in the back when he attempted to save a policeman.

Spanish newspapers said that Mr Echeverría, who born in Ferrol, in Spain’s northern Galicia region, and held law degrees from the Complutense University in Madrid and the Sorbonne in Paris, had been a member of the Acción Católica lay movement, founded in Spain in the 1920s, and had taught the catechism to Spanish-speaking children at his Poplar parish in east London.

They reported that a Spanish bishop had initiated his beatification process in light of a 2017 motu proprio from the Pope, Oblatio Vitae, which decreed that the “heroic offering of life, suggested and sustained by charity”, should be viewed as grounds for sainthood, as “a true, complete and exemplary imitation of Christ”.

Eight people were killed and 48 injured when terrorists wearing fake explosive vests drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, and then on to Borough High Street, south of the River Thames, randomly stabbing members of the public until they were shot dead by police.

Echeverria, whose body was found four days later, was posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Spanish Order of Civil Merit, and has skate parks named after him in Madrid and Alicante.

A prayer for his intercession, describing him as “an example of generosity, especially for young people”, has been approved by the Madrid archdiocese, which has also appealed for witness testimonies about his life and sanctity.

The Borough Market atrocity, claimed by Islamic State, followed the death of five passers-by in a March 2017 vehicle-and-knife attack in Westminster, and came just 12 days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena.

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