Justo Martinez

Justo Martinez

The Spanish monk who built the cathedral alone
Date of Birth: 20.09.1925
Country: Spain

Biography of Justo Gallego Martinez

Justo Gallego Martinez, also known as Don Justo, is a former Spanish monk who has been single-handedly building his own cathedral near Madrid, in the city of Mejorada del Campo, since 1961. Born in 1925 into a peasant family, Martinez's mother was deeply religious, and his schooling was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War.

Justo Martinez

As a young man, Martinez entered the Trappist monastery and spent eight years there until he contracted tuberculosis. He had to leave the monastery to protect the other monks from infection, and in 1961, he returned to his hometown of Mejorada del Campo. It was then that Martinez, driven by his strong faith, conceived the idea of building a cathedral.

Justo Martinez

Martinez inherited land from his parents, which he gradually sold to fund the construction of his cathedral. Despite having no formal training as a mason, architect, or builder, Martinez relied solely on his own vision and had no official permission from the authorities or the church to build his cathedral. He considers this construction to be an act of faith, a devoted service to God, and a way to express gratitude for the gift of life, as his tuberculosis miraculously receded.

Justo Martinez

Every morning since 1961, Martinez has woken up at 3:30 am to begin his work. Living a simple life, he sustains himself with basic food, water, prayers, and hard work. Martinez has always believed that he will work on his cathedral for as long as he is granted time. Occasionally, his relatives have provided him with assistance, and he pays for expert consultations out of his own pocket.

Justo Martinez

The main building of the cathedral measures 20 by 50 meters, with a height of 40 meters. Martinez continues to finance the construction through the rental or sale of his land, and more recently, he has started receiving donations. A local brick factory supports him by supplying materials, and most of the construction materials are recycled.

The residents of Mejorada del Campo have mixed opinions about Martinez's construction project. Some view his cathedral as substandard and hope that the city authorities will halt the project, while others consider it a local attraction. Regardless, the construction of the cathedral represents Martinez's personal relationship with God, as he once vowed to build it in his honor if he recovered from tuberculosis.

The cathedral, which Martinez has been tirelessly working on for half a century, is a structure that is both visually striking and unconventional. Some of the bricks he uses for walls and columns are visibly defective, yet the overall strength of the building is undeniable. The cathedral features galleries, halls, an area for an organ, an altar, inner courtyards, and an underground chapel.

In 2006, a documentary film about Martinez was aired on the Discovery Channel, bringing him recognition and admiration. Today, at 88 years old, Martinez is no longer able to work as extensively as before. Nevertheless, he continues to live with his cathedral, a testament to his unwavering faith.

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