Photo: Don Justo Gallego Martínez, Working on his Cathedral
For the last fifty years, and almost single handedly, Don Justo has built a cathedral, using materials he finds or are donated to him.
“My name is Justo Gallego. I was born in Mejorada del Campo on September 20, 1925. When I was very young, I had a deep Christian faith and I wanted to devote myself to the Creator.”
He goes by Don Justo. When he was 35 years old, he contracted TB and was asked to leave the monastery he had been living in for eight years, as monks were afraid he would start an epidemic.
He promised himself that if he survived, he would build a chapel dedicated to the Lady of The Pillar, (this is the name given to the blessed Virgin Mary for her claimed appearance in Spain) who he prayed to during those darker days, and almost 50 years ago, set the first stone of what would become a cathedral, entirely made out of recycled materials.
Don Justo gets up at 3:30 every morning, and works on his cathedral through the day. “I came back to Mejorada devastated by this setback to my first attempt at a spiritual life. So I decided to build, on farmland belonging to my family, an offering to God. Little by little, the building was erected, spending my family inheritance to keep it going. There were never any construction plans or official permission. Everything is in my head. I am not an architect or a stonemason. I have never had any training in the building profession. My basic education was interrupted by the Civil War. I was inspired by books about cathedrals, castles and other religious buildings and they gave birth to my own work. But my principle source of illumination and inspiration has always been the Word of Christ.”
The local authorities have admittedly for decades, looked the other way as Don Justo raised his structure; in part because he is now beloved in town, but also because few actually thought he would succeed.
But now, so near completion, it is unclear what will happen with Don Julio’s life work. Since the building has no permits, and is also not affiliated with the church, it will not be able to host mass or other ceremonies, until Don Justo processes the necessary permits, something he’s looking into.
Check out the pictures below, and visit Don Justo’s site for more pictures, news, and ways to support his amazing tour de force.