Justo Gallego is 90 years old.

For the past 53 years of his life, he has been building a Cathedral on the outskirts of Madrid by hand.

Once a farmer, bullfighter, and then a Trappist monk of eight years, Gallego was forced to leave the monastery when he was struck with tuberculosis in 1961. While he was sick, he made a promise to God – if he could be healed, he would build a chapel and name it after the Blessed Virgin Mary.


True to his promise, he started building in 1963. He has been building ever since, often without any help.

He has no prior experience in construction or architecture, and he collects materials from the scraps of other construction sites.

Great Big Story, a video offshoot of CNN, chronicled Gallego’s story in a recent short video:

Gallego recognizes that he will not finish the Cathedral during his lifetime, but he said he will leave the rest of the work up to God.