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Jewel from junk: Magnificent cathedral made from construction junk

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (

Single-handedly built by an 86-tear-old former Trappist monk who had never laid a brick in his life, Mejorada del Campo's impressive cathedral appears to have been skillfully crafted by a team of architectural experts. The building's giant spires and magnificent dome rivals hat of St Peter's Basilica. It's hard to believe that it was built solely from construction castoffs and junk - reflecting the determination of builder Justo Gallego Martinez who has been laboring on the project since the 1960s.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Martinez worked on the building over 12 miles from Madrid without architectural training. He vowed to build the cathedral after surviving a bout of tuberculosis.

Martinez spent five decades collecting the junk and discarded building material in order to build the 131 foot tall structure.

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After working as a farmer and bullfighter, the deeply religious Martinez, who also goes under the name of Don Justo spent eight years at a Trappist monastery. He was forced to leave when he was struck down with tuberculosis in 1961.

In his infirmity, he vowed that if he survived he would build a chapel and name it after the Virgin Mary to whom he prayed while he was sick.

Don Justo began building what he describes as his act of faith in 1963. Despite his lack of skills or building materials, is still working on the project today.

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In spite of the skepticism of many friends and locals, Don Justo has remarkably managed to build the place of worship without the use of a crane.

The vast columns of the structure are made from empty oil drums, while the covering on one of the domes is made from discarded food tubes.

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Working entirely on his own aside from occasional help from his six nephews, the cathedral is far from finished. Windows have been left unpainted and one of the domes remains to be covered. The floor also needs to be finished.

The inspiration of St Peter's Basilica with its huge central dome is plain to see, but Don Justo's ideas were also taken from the White House in the United States and a variety of European castles and churches.

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"When I look at what I've created, it overwhelms me and I give thanks to the lord," he told reporters. "If I lived my life again, I'd build this cathedral again only bigger. Twice the size, because for me, this is an act of faith."

Never receiving planning permission, it has been allowed to stay by local authorities as it has become something of a tourist attraction.

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