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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
New hope for Spain DIY cathedral
The Cathedral in Mejorada del Campo (grab from Spanish TV)
The Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary
A cathedral being built by a former monk near Madrid with no planning permission may be moving closer to official approval, Spanish TV reports.

An established architect told the television channel that if the imposing structure was reinforced, the local authority might officially sanction it.

Justo Gallego started the cathedral 45 years ago after illness forced him to leave the Trappist monastery he was in.

His building materials include spray cans, oil drums and old bicycle parts.

'Harmony'

Don Justo, 81, dedicated the cathedral to Nuestra Senora del Pilar - Our Lady of the Pillar - a representation of the Virgin Mary.

Justo Gallego (grab from Spanish TV)
Justo Gallego has been working on the building for 45 years
It towers above the village of Mejorada del Campo, 20km (13 miles) from Madrid under the flight-path to the capital's Barajas airport.

Don Justo, 81, told Spanish Television he never gave a thought to obtaining planning permission. "For me, papers are a waste of time."

What is important for him, he said, was "harmony and proportion".

But the architect, Carlos Luis Martin Fernandez, who has a doctorate in structural engineering, said he believed strengthening the structure would do the trick.

"It is possible to say it is safe - it has the proper structural stability - provided appropriate monitoring is carried out in the future," he told the television.

'Mad'

With its 40-metre-tall dome, the cathedral is an impressive structure, the more so as it is largely self built, with occasional help from relatives and volunteers.

As well as recycled materials, he has used supplies donated by local construction companies.

The Catholic Church has never given Don Justo its blessing, although he has bequeathed the structure to the bishopric of nearby Alcala de Henares.

Don Justo's work has become known worldwide - he even has his own blog and a page on Wikipedia - but he receives little funding.

Last year he featured in a Spanish TV advert for a soft drink, but the money he earned barely covered the cost of some windows.

Hundreds of people visit the cathedral every week.

"They've called me mad," says Don Justo. But he is determined to pursue his mission, even though he says it might take another 20 years to finish.

"I have no gold or silver; what I have I give to the Lord."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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Justo Gallego Martínez working on his cathedral




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