Brick by Brick, Cathedral Builder Justo Gallego dies at 96

Justo Gallego Martínez was born on September 20, 1925, in Mejorada del Campo, into an agricultural family. At the age of 27, he joined a monastery in the northern state of Soria, but was ordered to leave eight years later after contracting tuberculosis and risking infection. other priests.

After recovering from a hospital in Madrid, he returned to his hometown and decided to turn the family plot into a place of worship. He threw the first stone in 1961. The project, she said, stemmed in part from her desire to thank God for recovering from her illness. But he said it was also an act of faith to make up for the desecration of churches he witnessed during the 1930s Spanish Civil War.

“I saw the communists demolish all the churches here, people laughing and dancing in the ruins,” Mr. Gallego said. “But when you believe, you can rebuild a beautiful new place with your own hands.”

He financed the construction with donations and selling some of his family’s farmland. He also used his earnings from his appearances in a series. promotional campaign For a beverage company in 2005. He did not draw architectural drawings. “One plan is made in my head, drawn day by day,” he said.

Still, he talked about admiring medieval castles and Romanesque style. Jo Farb Hernández, professor emeritus in the department of art and art history at San Jose State University in California, was fascinated by the way the cathedral was shaped.

“I experienced it as an unlikely combination of a ramshackle medieval monastery, an overcrowded and chaotic salvage area, and a dusty, shattered set from the futuristic movie ‘Blade Runner’,” Professor Hernández said. “Still, over the years, though, I’ve seen sculptures installed, paintings completed, windows installed, openings sealed, and spaces cleaned and cleared.”

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