I've seen a little bit of hubbub around the web on the subject of President Uchtdorf using a story in his talk that is basically an urban legend, an amalgam of several different tales. He didn't actually cite it as being true, of course. He merely said, "A story is told...", but it is definitely one of the variety that has made the internet rounds in recent years. I would guess that it has probably been taken as true more often than not. Personally, I had believed it was factual until just last year.
When I was giving my Relief Society lesson on Charity, taught from the Joseph Smith manual, I had planned to use the story myself. In checking to make sure it was a solid reference, I found to my dismay that it was not...at least, not entirely. Let me quote from my lesson what I actually learned:
"Several years ago, an urban legend circulated about a statue of Christ in Germany being bombed and repaired in a very special way. In the story, the statue was rebuilt, but when the time came for the artisans to redo the hands, it was decided to leave them off entirely, placing instead an inscription at the foot of the statue reading, 'We Are His Hands.' I loved this story and was quite sorry to learn that it was as false as its message was true.
"However, I have recently found (to my delight) that the WWII story was likely a distorted version of two absolutely true ones. A real statue did exist outside a church, namely Christ the King Catholic Church in San Diego, but the hands were broken off by vandals around 1980, not by bombing. Instead of repairing the hands, the church decided to put up a plaque at the base that states, 'I have no hands but yours.' This is a reference to a poem by St. Teresa of Avila that begins: 'Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.' The statue without hands is still there in San Diego, a powerful symbol of a great truth. We ARE His hands. And He wants us to use them in His service, which means in the service of others."
The other statue stands in a church in Soweto, South Africa. The damage to that one was caused by a police attack on a banned church meeting that took place during apartheid. The missing hands were not repaired because "We are Christ's hands in the world."
My personal guess is that the San Diego incident provides the etymology of the "statue in Germany" tale. Happily, I was still able to incorporate the beautiful message of a Christ without hands into my lesson. I really love the image of our needing to be His hands, which has always inspired me.
Here is the poem I wrote and used in Relief Society that day: