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
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!