Justo Gallego Martínez was born on September 20, 1925, the festivity of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Mejorada del Campo, a locality less than 30 kilometres east of the city of Madrid, declared a royal villa by Philip II in 1593.
His father, Félix Gallego, passed away when Justo was 10 years old. Soon, he would begin assisting his mother Anastasia in the fields. It was thanks to her that he developed the strong faith that later led him to the Monastery of Santa María de Huerta in Soria after the Spanish Civil War. He lived in the Cistercian community for 8 years, but in 1960, afflicted with tuberculosis, he left the monastery and returned to Mejorada del Campo. After his recovery in 1961, he began building a chapel in honour of the Our Lady of the Pillar as a gesture of gratitude for his healing. From that moment on, he dedicated his life to this project: giving the rest of his life to God, constructing a grand temple in His honour.
Justo Gallego was a lean man with a profound gaze who, as a result of building this structure, became quite well-known. Although he always shied away from fame, he was very aware of how beneficial a certain public presence having could be. Appearing in the press and other media helped him showcase his work, attract curious individuals, and, of course, obtain resources to finish it. These appearances turned Justo and his cathedral into an inspiring example of what human will and creativity could achieve.
On November 28, 2021, Justo Gallego passed away. Almost two years earlier, he had made the decision to bequeath his grand work to the Mensajeros de la Paz, which committed to completing his tasks and creating a space in this location for the community’s service, independent of their religion or origins.
The Mensajeros de la Paz association was founded in 1961 in Oviedo, the same month and year that Justo began his cathedral, by the initiative of two recently ordained priests: Father Ángel García Rodríguez and Father Ángel Silva, who have worked in more than 76 countries over the course of 50 years. It was in Oviedo where the opening of the first family house took place, accommodating about twelve minors, young people, and even adults living on the streets. It was an open home, without age or limits regarding social issues; a place where everyone could have a roof over their heads, a bed, company, and food. Since then, their work has grown exponentially. For example, in 2022, they assisted more than 167,641 people. Mensajeros de la Paz, led by Father Ángel García, has always aimed at the human and social advocacy of the most disadvantaged sectors of society, adapting to the different social realities that both Spain and the rest of the world have experienced throughout years of history.