jamuna different desk: Justo Gallego was born in 1925 in Mejorada del Campo, 40km east of the capital Madrid. He joined a cloister in a very near city at age twenty-seven, wherever he remained as a monk for eight years before he was stricken with TB and had to go away for worry of obtaining others sick.
Since he may now not serve God as a monk, Gallego set to create a cathedral on the family property he inherited. His request for a license was neglected as authorities didn’t assume he was serious regarding the project. However, Gallego continuing yet, starting construction in 1961 with no permission and no expertise.
“I’m no knowledgeable in architecture, but the cathedral looked as if it absolutely was designed and engineered by professionals,” he said. “Nothing gave the impression that it absolutely was created by somebody with no formal coaching in design or stonemasonry.”
Gallego, whose education was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War within the 1930s, took his inspiration from books and images of castles and cathedrals. There was never a proper set up for the structure, however, it had been most heavily influenced by the Romanesque style and rows of arches.
He used his family inheritance to purchase materials for the foundations and drove around town collecting discarded bricks to reuse.
For many years, Gallego did the brunt of the work himself, occasionally receiving some help from his young nephews in exchange for paying their school fees. As such, Cathedral of Justo has turned into a lifelong project. The largest of the 28 domes that line the structure is about 40m in diameter and took 30 years to complete. It’s Gallego’s favourite part of the cathedral.
The cathedral is the only big project Gallego has ever pursued in his life. He’s never once considered abandoning it, and he cannot see himself ever doing anything else. He still wakes up before dawn every morning to work on the construction– saves for Sundays, when he attends morning mass instead.
For the last 20 years, Gallego has been joined by local resident Ángel López, who took a liking to the project and wanted to help. Among other things, López created the stained glass and painted the domes, despite having no previous experience with either. Now that Gallego is 91, López also does most of the heavy lifting. He will inherit the project and be in charge of finishing it one day.
In his will, Gallego is leaving Cathedral of Justo to the Catholic Church, who he says is happy with his creation. The Church will only accept his donation, however, if he receives the building permit he’s been pursuing. Gallego hopes that his cathedral will one day serve as a functioning church, and wants to be buried on the site after his passing.
The cathedral is far from being finished. The frame, structure and domes have been built, but there is still plenty of work to be done on the interior, which is mostly bare. López told the photographer that he will likely need extra helping hands. Plus, finishing the interior will require financing that he and Gallego currently do not have.
As it stands, there is no indication of when Cathedral of Justo will be completed.