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Via Media

Building a church no one wants

A story of eccentricity in Spain

Justo Gallego has spent 40 years single-handedly building a cathedral, only to discover that his quixotic passion for the offbeat building was not widely shared.

After four decades of toil the 78-year-old former Cistercian monk says his obra, or work, which rises out of the Castilian plain at Mejorada del Campo 15 miles from Madrid, is now almost finished.

But as many of Spain’s dilapidated churches are increasingly given over to storks rather than worshippers, the Church sees no need for another.

“It’s not a cathedral and it never will be,” said a spokesman for the Alcala diocese, to which Mejorada del Campo belongs. “It’s not necessary and it needs the kind of investment that the diocese just can’t make.”

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David Morrison

posted January 5, 2004 at 12:44 pm

Remarkable that this story didn’t have a picture of the building.

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posted January 5, 2004 at 4:30 pm

Google images of it under “Mejorada del Campo” (use the images tab in Google).

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posted January 5, 2004 at 5:09 pm

If only there were an apparation on the premises the poor guy would have it made. So would the town.

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Donald R. McClarey

posted January 5, 2004 at 9:04 pm

Sounds like Lilies of the Field transplanted to Spain. I hope it does become a functioning cathedral.

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posted January 6, 2004 at 7:10 pm

Ohhh it’s ugly. I found a picture. Paying upkeep on this one could exceed its worth in a week.
There’s no way a diocese should have to accept amy hovel/building/monument anyone decides to raise anywhere, if they were not specifically and legally commissioned to do the work. The diocese owes this man nothing, since he took it upon himself to build something of his own design. If he offers to sell it to them, or donate it to them, OF COURSE, they have the completely free option to decline. They definitely should, if the offer comes to pass. =)

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