“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”. Proverbs 17:17
More than 400 years ago, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen (18) children. To sustain the family, the father has to work almost eighteen hours a day as a goldsmith and accept any part-time jobs available at that time. Despite their abject poverty, two of the children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue and develop their gift for art; however they both knew that their father would never be able to finance their education at the Academy.
At night in their jam-packed bed, the two boys figured a way on how to make things work: a coin toss! The loser would work in the nearby mines and support his brother at school. Then, after that brother who won the coin toss would graduate in four years-time, it will be his turn to support the other brother at the academy. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to the Academy. The other brother, Albert, went to work into the stone mines. As agreed, he supported his brother for the next four years. Albrecht’s etchings, woodcuts, and oil paintings were far better than those of most of his teachers, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn substantial fees for his commissioned works.
So, when young Albrecht returned home after his graduation, the Durer family hosted a dinner to celebrate his success and honor his achievements. It was a night of cheerful festivities. Afterwards, it was time for the special toast. Albrecht rose from his honored position to drink a toast to his beloved brother, Albert, for the years of sacrifice that enabled Albrecht to fulfill his dream. In his closing speech, he praised his brother for his unselfish pains and declared that he will return the honor of sending him to the academy to pursue his ambition; he also made a commitment to take care of him.”
Albert was dumbstruck as he sat there, with tears streaming down his face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No …no …no …no.” Albrecht went over to his brother’s seat and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look … look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother … for me it is too late.”
To pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.”