Sunday, July 06, 2014

El Loco de la Catedral

From The Madman and The Cathedral:
My name is Justo Gallego. I was born in Mejorada del Campo on September 20, 1925. When I was very young, I had a deep Christian faith and I wanted to devote myself to the Creator. For this reason, when I was 27 I entered the monastery of Santa Maria de la Huerta in the province of Soria. After eight

years, I fell ill with tuberculosis and I was forced to leave the community for fear I might contaminate the others.

I came back to Mejorada devastated by this setback to my first attempt at a spiritual life. So I decided to build, on farmland belonging to my family, an offering to God. Little by little, the building was erected, spending my family inheritance to keep it going. There were never any construction plans or official permission. Everything is in my head. I am not an architect or a stonemason. I have never had any training in the building profession. My basic education was interrupted by the Civil War. I was inspired by books about cathedrals, castles and other religious buildings and they gave birth to my own work. But my principle source of illumination and inspiration has always been the Word of Christ. It is He who guides me and it is to Him that I offer my work, in gratitude for the life he has given me and in penitence for those who have not followed his path.

It has been almost fifty years since I devoted myself to building this cathedral and I still get up at three thirty in the morning to start my day. With the exception from time to time of assistants, I have done it all by myself, mostly using recycled building materials… and there is not set date for the end of this work. I content myself everyday offering to the Almighty the work He wishes me to do and it makes me happy to think of what I have already accomplished. And I will continue, till the end of my days, to keep working on the cathedral with my resources and donations from other.

Everything that is made in the name of God helps us to admire his reflected and eternal glory.”
Justo Gallego Martinez.

Director’s StatementThis film came about after a research trip to Madrid when I was writing a film set in Spain about a small community that was losing its faith. Laura Rodriguez (the producer) took me to Justo's cathedral in Mejorada del Campo and I realised I had stumbled across a documentary project that (complete film below)
El Loco de la Catedral (The Madman and the Cathedral) from James Rogan on Vimeo.

reflected many of the questions I was addressing in my feature. I went back with a camera and started making  this documentary about faith, a character study of the remarkable and multi-faceted man, Justo Gallego Martinez, who has spent his lifetime building a cathedral.

Justo says his only concern is to finish the cathedral, yet at every turn he has made it impossible for himself to finish it: everything has been started; nothing has been finished. But if the cathedral were ever completed what would he do? He seems to have absorbed the Romantic ideal of the fragment: unfinished works that are historical ruins before they are even finished.

Justo, in this world, is a dinosaur building a colossal monument to a god long since given up for dead. Nevertheless, his achievement is nothing short of miraculous. I am fascinated by the paradox of his character - whether he is madman or martyr? On the one hand, it has been an enterprise of total self-indulgence, on the other, total self-negation. To work with, especially for his helpers, he can be difficult, angry and harsh. His serene contentment in his work can switch to searing fury if anybody gets in the way of his project. But his determination is necessary precisely because he is a man who has succeeded in living outside of society pursuing an eccentric dream. His unswerving faith has enabled him to carry out a super-human task, revealing the raw power of religion in the hands of an exceptional individual.

The story of Justo and his cathedral in its own quiet way poses tough questions about how we live now and why. Justo gave up his life to build something that will surprise and awe generations to come. His dedication and achievement has the power to overwhelm people of any faith or no faith at all. I hope this film is small reflection of the humbling experience of seeing the cathedral in real life.
James Rogan, Director  link

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