Have you ever got down on your knees and promised your creator that if you got that groovy green job, or if these natural stimulants improved your libido, or if that horrible bout of encephalitis went away, you would do something amazing? Quit smoking, start eating better, or maybe even give up cars and take up biking instead?
And then, did you forget all about your promise when the thing you wanted came about?
After recovering from tuberculosis, which forced him out of the Benedictine order of monks, Justo Martinez (known fondly as Don Justo) promised to build a massive cathedral for the Lady of the Pillar, who helped him through his ordeal. And that is what he has been doing for the last 50 years.
Faith, not skill, is what drives the man to wake up long before everyone else in suburban Madrid to collect batches of rejected bricks. These are then mixed with his special brand of junk mortar and laid somewhat haphazardly. So far, this concoction has reached towering heights of 131 feet.
The columns that support the ceiling are built in part with old oil drums, while The BBC noted that old paint buckets and even plastic food tubs, broken down, are deemed worthy materials for his monumental, but rushed endeavor.
Although he has one devoted helper, Angel Lopez Sanchez, Don Justo is the sole shaker behind the project. Most of the funds come from his personal inheritance and the 8,000 square meter structure has been built on his own land.
Critics note that the former monk is no builder and the cathedral has been constructed without architectural plans or permits. Even so, taking inspiration from castles, other churches, the White House, and St. Peter’s at the Vatican, and scrapped together with mostly “junk” materials, Don Justo’s life work is beautiful.
Authorities have allowed the construction to continue despite the lack of permits and despite the use of materials that would never pass inspection, perhaps out of a sense of curiosity or just plain awe. But whether the Bishopric to which the building is bequeathed will pursue the building as a serious house of worship (after the old man moves on) remains to be seen.
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