Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was an influential American author, teacher, and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science.
At an early age Mary regularly turned to the Bible and prayer for hope and inspiration. Throughout her life she struggled with chronic illness compounded by personal loss. As a result, she continued to seek comfort and insights in the Bible, drawn by the healing record contained in its pages and a divine principle, which she sensed lay behind Jesus' healing work.
A turning point occurred in 1866 when a severe fall on an icy sidewalk left her in bed in critical condition. She asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus' healing, found herself suddenly well. Eventually, she referred to this as the moment she discovered Christian Science.
Her conviction grew in the coming weeks and months as setbacks were met with even stronger proofs of spiritual healing. This led to nine years of intensive scriptural study, healing activity, and teaching, culminating in the publication of Science and Health in 1875. In this book she marked out what she understood to be the "science" behind Jesus' healing method. As she saw it, his works were divinely natural, and repeatable.
Over the years Mary Baker Eddy taught her system of healing to hundreds of women and men who in turn established successful healing practices across the United States and abroad. She founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where she taught her classes until 1889, when she closed the institution to focus on a major revision of Science and Health.
She became the leader of a burgeoning Christian Science movement:
- In 1888, a reading room for her writings and other publications opened in Boston.
- In 1894, Boston-area Christian Scientists moved into their own first church edifice (The Mother Church), built under Mrs. Eddy's direction. This church now has branches and societies around the world.
- In 1895 she published a church manual, establishing guidelines that are followed to this day. It is in this slim volume that she made provisions for a lay ministry in Christian Science churches, with locally elected readers who read a weekly "Bible Lesson-Sermon" of passages from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
- Mrs. Eddy went on to found The Christian Science Publishing Society in 1898, which became the publishing home for numerous publications launched by her and her followers.
It is of note that Mary Baker Eddy made her discovery of Christian Science mid-way through her long life, at a time when women could not vote and were generally barred from pulpits, seminaries, and the medical profession. She continued her work until her last days. It was at age 87, she launched The Christian Science Monitor, a leading international newspaper, the recipient, to date, of seven Pulitzer Prizes and designed "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
Last updated: September 29, 2010