The Madman and the Cathedral is a documentary about one man’s dream to build a cathedral.
In 1963, Don Justo Gallego Martinez laid the foundation stone of a cathedral. A peasant, with no architectural training, no construction experience and no tools, he turned his back on the fields and started building. He had no blueprints and no planning permission. He had not even seen many cathedrals. All he had was the unshakeable conviction that God wanted him to build a cathedral.
Locals took little notice of the ragged pile of bricks and the small man patiently piecing together his dream. He was just “el loco de la iglesia”(the madman of the church), their very own Don Quixote. Don Quixote wanted to bring about a revival of the age of chivalry in his own century, Don Justo wanted to bring back the forgotten ideals of the Saints and Martyrs. Don Quixote charges windmills; Don Justo builds a cathedral.
Nearly fifty years later, the shell of the building is complete, covering the 20x50 metre plot. Some 8,000m2 have been built or are underway. They include a complex ensemble of cloisters, offices, lodgings and a library. There is even a dome (modelled on St Peters) rising to some 40 metres and some 12 metres in diameter.
The ragged pile of bricks has evolved into one of the most striking and baffling architectural accomplishments of our time.
Justo is now in his eighties and the cathedral is only two-thirds finished. The miracle of his achievement is matched only by the miracle he needs to finish his project.