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The Praying Hands

Updated on November 3, 2011

“I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings. My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.” <Mahatma Gandhi>

The Story Begins

Many of you may have seen the drawing of hands clasped together and lifted in prayer.

The original drawing was done by Albrecht Durer in the fifteenth century to honor his brother Albert. The story behind the drawing is inspirational, endearing, and loving. When you hear or read the story you immediately get a feeling of hope and your heart swells with the realization that out of little, much can be gained.

Albrecht was one of eighteen children. The father worked as a goldsmith for many hours everyday and took on other jobs to provide for his family. He worked hard but, of course, with eighteen children to clothe, feed and provide shelter for, money was always tight. Albrecht worked with his father learning from him a skill that would serve him all his life. But he and his brother Albert had a dream, one they often talked about long into the night and, I would imagine, said many prayers about. They each wanted to be an artist.

A Toss of a Coin

Everything seemed so hopeless. The family could not afford to send one, and both of them going to artist school was out of the question. So the brothers talked and decided on a plan. They would toss a coin and the loser would support the winner by working in the mines to pay the tuition. A sacrifice for sure because working in the mines was not only hard work, but dangerous and unhealthy. At the end of Albrecht’s 4-years at the Art Academy the other brother would then go to art school while being support by either the sale of his brother’s art work or he too would work in the mines. Albrecht won the toss. With a smile on his face and gratitude in his heart, off he goes to the Academy. Albert waves to his brother knowing that in 4-years it would be his turn. However, it was not to be.

A Celebration Turns to Tears

The air is filled with the aroma of good food, all of Albrecht's favorites. Everyone was overjoyed. Their son, brother, friend has returned.

Family and friends gathered for dinner and to celebrate the accomplishments and homecoming of Albrecht. Albrecht was given a place of honor at the table and everyone enjoyed the great food, shared wonderful stories and lots of laughter. All through dinner Albrecht thought about his wonderful and generous brother and after a while stood to say words of appreciation and pay tribute to this brother who sacrificed so much. He then shared with the others the plan the two of them had made years earlier. “And now my dear and blessed brother of mine, it is now your turn. Albert, you can now go to Nuremberg to the Art Academy to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

Albert sat with tears glistening in his eyes and staining his face. He silently shook his head as he looked at his family and his brother with love. “It is too late for me, my brother, I cannot go to Nuremberg.” He held up his hands to show what four years working in the mines had done to his hand. “Every finger on both hands has been smashed, some more than once. Arthritis has all but crippled one hand…no, my brother, it is too late for me."

I can imagine the silence that engulfed the room. I look around the table and see family and friends starring at Albert with both horror and pity, others simply drop their eyes not knowing what to say or do. I can see the face of Albrecht as he looks across the table at his brother as his own tears start to flow. He suddenly bolts from his place and goes quickly to his brother and they embrace. “It is going to be alright Albert. Don’t you worry it is going to be alright.”

Greatest Artist of Northern Renaissance

Albrecht became very well know as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. His portraits, sketches, watercolors, engravings, etc hang in every great museum in the world.

Of his vast body of works the one that most of us are familiar with is the one that he drew to honor his selfless brother. Albrecht painstakingly and with love in every stroke drew his brother’s abused hands. He called the drawing “Hands,” but it so resonated with everything and people who saw it begin to call it “Praying Hands”.

The first time I remembering reading this story of Albrecht and the “Praying Hands” was in a book titled “A Better way to Live” by Og Mandino. I’ve seen and re-read it many times since then. There seem to be some question as to the validity of the story in whole or in part. True or not it is a story that allows the reader to feel a sense of expectation. There is much that each of us can learn from and the lessons are as many as there are people reading.

Final Thoughts

Consider these:

  • Out of little much can be gained because that is what families do (or should do) take care of each other.
  • We do not get through life without the help of others.
  • The love of family is both a gift and a blessing.
  • “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” <Ryunosuke Satora>
  • “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” <Alex Haley>
  • “No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your family, what have you really accomplished?” <Elbert Hubbard>
  • There is no other love like the love for a brother. There is no other love like the love from a brother. <Terri Guillemets>
  • We share dreams, memories and love each other…not take advantage of each other.

Whenever I happen to see a picture or painting of those hands I am captivated by them and I think about my mother kneeling in prayer. To me, there are very few things more powerful than a mother praying for her children.

The next time you see a picture of the “Praying Hands” stop for a moment and reflect on the hope, love and sacrifice they represent.

Love to all,



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    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      Hi LadyFiddler, Thank you for reading, and commenting. Anytimes a see a picture or drawing, etc. of the praying hands I am drawn to it. For years I didn't understand why.... Love and hugs to you.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 4 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hi Dee some interesting facts you got there about the painter.

      Thank you for sharing this will make us appreciate the praying hands some more. That's sad the bro hands got damaged......

      Have a bless day :)

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 4 years ago

      ocfireflies, I have always loved the pictures I've seen of the hands. And fell in love with them even more. And yes, I have missed you. I, too, have had issues (personal/health) that have kept me from writing regularly. I trying to get myself back on track. I am so happy that you are coming back on a regular basis also.

      Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a lovely comment. Have a wonderfully glorious day my dear friend. Blessing to you.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Dee aka Nonna,

      I did not know the story behind the Praying Hands. Thank you for not only informing me, but doing so prayerfully. A definite V+. Have missed you and hope you have missed me. While not able to return to HP on a regular basis, the goal is that I will be able to soon.

      Many Blessings,


    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Thank you Rosalinem, I can never see hands in prayers without feeling the love of the story of the two brothers. And, thank you so much for spending your time reading what I have written. It is so much appreciate and I cannot thank you enough.

    • Rosalinem profile image

      Rosalinem 6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Dee this hub is just plain beautiful, i have been reading your hubs and they are sensational.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Hello bri36. I look for things that inspire me and hope they inspire someone else. Thank you so much for your support. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate it and you.

    • profile image

      bri36 6 years ago

      As always Nonna you find the greatest ways to cheer us on. Lady you rock! After reading this powerful story about two brothers it is very hard to decide which one loves the other more. Then it dawned on me that love is the message and you are spreading it out thickly. For this I say thank you and yet I voted^

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      LVidoni5, your comment is so very special and I thank you so much for reading the hub and leaving a comment. I am so happy you found something that spoke to you. A praying mother is a gift that is priceless.

      Blessing to you.

    • LVidoni5 profile image

      Brian Loewer 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      How fascinating. I can relate so much, always wanting to go to art school myself. I will never look at those praying hands the same. And as old as I get I will always remember the image of my mother kneeling praying for me and my siblings. Really enjoyed this, It was almost personal to me.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Eunice, you are very welcome. And, thank you for stopping by, reading and leaving a comment. You are very much appreciated.

    • Eunice Stuhlhofer profile image

      Eunice Stuhlhofer 6 years ago

      Hallo Nonna. Thanks for sharing about the praying hands. Didn't know the touching story behind . . . I have the picture in my blog. And thanks for the fan mail and follow.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Georgia (aslanlight) it is so good to see you. I have missed you and thank you for stopping by and leaving such a wonderful comment. Yes, I know, I too am guilty of trying to do it all myself and not asking for help.

      Blessing by to you my friend. Take good care of you.

    • aslanlight profile image

      aslanlight 6 years ago from England

      What an inspirational and heart warming story, and beautifully written as always Dee. The line quoted below especially spoke to me because it's a hard lesson I'm having to learn at the moment. It's one thing being strong but it's another thinking we can do it all ourselves!

      'We do not get through life without the help of others.'

      Blessings Georgia

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Phyllis, thank you so much for you comment. I was always very intrigued by the painting and then when I read the story many years ago, true or not, it made me appreciate the art even more. Your stopping by to read is very much appreciated. I do hope you come again.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I love the work of Albrecht Durer. This hub brings back memories of when I took art classes in college and did research on Durer for an essay. Very well-written hub. I will be following you for more reading of your interesting hubs.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Apostle Jack, very well said and thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate and thank God for you.

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 6 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      I speak and talk to God as i speak and talk to you.He is not far away.We can speak directly to God,whereas most people in the Old testament had to go to the priest and leaders of the faith in order to connect with God.Thank God for Jesus Christ that we have a better and personal Ave of worship toward the Almighty God.Great hub.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      prairieprincess it is so wonderful of you to leave such encouragement. And, you are so right...I cannot imagine the level of sacrifice and, as you said, not be bitter. Thank you for you votes...they mean a great deal to me. Please visit again.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Thank You Cred2, the story has always moved me and I shared it so that other would see what we can do if we only are there for each other. The sacrifice of one bother for the other was so unselfish but like you this day we know and remember. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Oh my goodness, Dee, this is beautiful. I have always loved that painting, too, and what a story of love and sacrifice. How that brother must have loved him, to not be bitter and to support him. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. Vote up, awesome, beautiful and interesting. Take care.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Great article, Dee, I had no idea! Looks like Albreckt went on through his art and the sacrifice of his brother on his behalf to move us all to remember the both as a team to this day. It is not the sort of historical account one would expect to read about. Truly great, thanks Cred2

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Thank you vocalcoach, you always seem to make me feel good about my work. You push me forward. I remembered and wrote the story because I wanted to share, of course, but I also needed it's message once again. Thank you so much for stopping by and please come again. You are always welcome.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Oh, how I love this. The Praying Hands has been a favorite of mine. I was oblivious to the touching story behind its creation. A trulu inspiring and beautiful hub, Nonna. I like, "out of little, much can be gained."

      I am book marking this hub and rated UP and all across the board with the exception of funny. Thank you so much.


    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Thank you so much. It is a story I've never forgotten from the first time I read it. It has so much meaning and so many lessons. Thank you eddie for stopping by and for leaving a wonderful comment. Please visit again.

    • profile image

      Eddie-Perkins 6 years ago

      This is beautiful Nonna. Thank you for sharing. I vaguely remember hearing this story of Albrecht and Albert, but to hear it again is wonderful. God bless you. Vote up, useful and beautiful. ~ eddie