The proud father of a Spanish terror victim in London has told how his son’s bravery deserves sainthood.
Describing him as “a colossus, a really strong man”, he said his son Ignacio had grown up to be a caring, caring man with a “heart of gold”.
In a moving interview from his home in Madrid, former engineer Joaquin Echevarria Alonso, 73, confirmed how the family formally submitted a request for his sainthood to the Archbishop of Madrid.
“The Catholic Church recommended that we create an association to start the canonization process and they have now accepted the request,” he said.
“We’re just starting the process now, but we really hope that to become a saint you have to be well known and Ignacio is definitely that, which is a good head start.”
He added that it was a very happy coincidence that on July 12, 2017, just a month after his death, the Vatican opened a new process to apply for sainthood for “people who have lost their lives in the name of others, which obviously included Ignacio’s death.
“It may also happen that the devil’s advocate decides not to grant him canonization, but we really hope not.
“He was a very down-to-earth person, so I think if he is canonized it will be really amazing for us and he will become a very good natural role model for society.
“He will make the perfect saint because he died saving the lives of others and put his life in danger to help a policeman fight off some terrorists with explosives.
“Although he saw a number of policemen running away from the fight, he decided to join in and put his life in danger.”
The 39-year-old banker was one of eight people killed in the attack which took place on the night of June 3, 2017. He was stabbed in the back as he swung his skateboard towards the terrorists and was was declared dead at the scene.
“Ignacio never imagined he would be canonized…and I’m sure he would be much happier alive.”
He continued, “I am pursuing his canonization because I want real role models for society, not just for athletes.
“We can’t resurrect him, so we want to at least make his death useful.
“Ignacio was a person who always cared for people and when he saw someone abusing someone else, he always stood up for the victim.”
“In fact, he told us a few days before his death that if he had been skateboarding the day a police officer died near Westminster a few weeks before, he would have stepped in and saved him.
“He said he often skateboarded near there and the policeman would have been alive.”
Much of his humility came from his upbringing in local comprehensive schools around Galicia.
He had moved to London to work at HSBC bank after losing a banking job in Madrid.
It was a good job investigating money laundering and he was enjoying his city life.
“He was having the best year of his life. He loved her.
“He moved there partly for the language and also because his sister, Isabel, lived there for many years and had children there.”
He continued, “We were actually supposed to have a big family reunion with him and his sister and my nephews and nieces four days after he died.”
On the shock of her death, he said it had been an agonizing wait.
“When Ignacio died, it took British police more than three days to find out who he was.
“The Spanish ambassador in London first told me that my son had been killed by the police, but I told him that I was convinced that they had not killed him.”
“If my son had been killed by the police, I would have supported the police because we must support the West against terrorism.
“If anyone is to blame, it’s the terrorists, not the British people or the police.”
He added: ‘I didn’t want to attend the trials as I have faith in the UK system and UK justice.