Former Spanish Monk Spends 50 Years Creating Cathedral From Garbage

Over the past five decades, a former Spanish monk has been single-handedly building a cathedral from thrown-out material.

Justo Gallego Martinez is making it a mission to make Mejorada del Campo's cathedral rival that of St. Peter's Basilica, with little help and little funding.

The cathedral, which is located 12 miles outside of Madrid, has been a labor of love for the 86-year-old.

After becoming so ill with tuberculosis in 1961 that he was forced to leave the monastery, Martinez vowed that if he ever recovered he would build a church to honor the Virgin Mary, to whom he prayed while he was sick.

With no building or architecture experience, for most of his life Martinez has been building the 131-feet tall structure by collecting junk, including empty oil drums and discarded food tubes.

Aside from occasional assistance from his six nephews, Martinez has not even used a crane to help with the construction.

And even though the cathedral is still far from finished, with unpainted windows, partially covered domes, and an incomplete floor, Martinez is incredibly proud of what he has built.

“When I look at what I've created, it overwhelms me and I give thanks to the lord,” Martinez told BBC.

“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.”

Despite never receiving permission to build the church, local authorities believe it will be allowed to stay because it has become something of a tourist attraction.

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