Whilst on holiday last year Rev Roy Taylor vicar of St. Francis in San Eugenio, Playa de Las Americas, South Tenerife gave a sermon on Mothering Sunday.  Roy explained Mothering Sunday was different to Mother’s day because in whilst it takes love to mother, not all mothers are good.  

 

He illustrated his sermon with the story of Albrecht Durer who painted the picture of the praying hands pictured here.  This picture was presented to Roy in the form of a plaque when he was ordained as a curate in York Minster

Albrecht was born in the fifteenth century, near Nuremberg one of eighteen children. Albrecht’s father, a goldsmith by profession, worked long hours and took any other paying chore he could find in his neighbourhood in order merely to keep food on the table for his family.

Two of the children, Albrecht and Albert were talented artists they both dreamt of pursuing their talent further, but they knew that their father would never be able to afford to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

So the two boys worked out a plan. One would work in the nearby mines and support his brother with his earnings whilst the other would attend the academy.  Then when that bother had finished his studies in four years they would swap. Albrecht won the toss of the coin and attended the academy whilst Albert went down into the mines and supported his brother during his studies with his earnings. Planning to swap in four years, either with sales of his artwork or, by labouring in the mines..

Albert went down into the and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate success. Albrecht's etchings, woodcuts, and his oils were often far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

After four years the young artist returned to his village, Albrecht was ready to pay for his brother’s time at the academy.  The Durer family held a festive dinner to celebrate Albrecht's return.  After the meal, Albrecht rose to drink a toast to his beloved brother thanking him for his support for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

 

 

Albert rose, and holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! No, brother ... for me it is too late." The bones in every finger had been smashed at least once, and were now suffering from arthritis, the thumbs were bent and twisted, such that it was difficult even to hold the glass toasting his brother, much less a brush.

Albrecht paid homage to his brother for all he had sacrificed and painstakingly sketched his brother's hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward simply calling the drawing “Hands”.  Roy asked us to look carefully at the picture and note that the crooked thumb and the gnarled hands that could not close due to the abuse the mines had wrought,

The world renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands”.  Roy gave this story as an example of unconditional love, similar to that given by a mother, and as a reminder to us all that no one ever makes it alone, we all need someone!

George Jevons

 

Praying Hands

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