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Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. To keep food on the table the father, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many discussions, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, he would support the other brother while he attended school.

They tossed a coin and Albrecht won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. By the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When he to his village, the family held a festive dinner to celebrate his triumphant homecoming. After the meal, Albrecht rose to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

Albert rose and said softly, "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! 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 with a pen or a brush. No, brother, for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of them. You very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

To pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer drew his brother’s hands with palms together and fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the world has renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands." It is a tribute to true friendship, a love that is willing to do whatever is required to see another succeed.

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