The Amazing Story of a 90-Year Old Former Monk Who’s Been Building a Cathedral by Hand Since 1961

Great Big Story tells the remarkable tale of Justo Gallego Martínez, the dedicated 90-year old former Trappist monk who in 1963, began building a memorial cathedral to Our Lady of the Pillar on land near Madrid, Spain that he inherited from his parents. In the 53-years since, Gallego has worked every day, either by himself or with the help of some family members to build his memorial, even though he may not live to see its completion.

For 53 years, Justo Gallego has been building a cathedral by hand on the outskirts of Madrid almost entirely by himself. Gallego has no formal architecture or construction training, but that hasn’t stopped him from toiling on this herculean task. At 90 years old, Gallego knows that he will not be able to finish the project in his lifetime. But he keeps at it anyway, day after day, driven by his faith.