History of Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Science church are intertwined. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was an influential American author, teacher, and religious leader, noted for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality and health, which she named Christian Science. She articulated those ideas in her major workScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures, first published in 1875. Four years later she foundedthe Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts, which today has branch churches and societies around the world. In 1908 she launched the Christian Science Monitor, a leading international newspaper, the recipient, to date, of seven Pulitzer Prizes.
Born 1821 in New Hampshire, USA, Mary Baker's education was interrupted by periods of sickness. When not at school she read and studied and wrote poetry at home. Her parents sought help from physicians, but the treatments brought only temporary if any relief. Raised in a deeply religious Congregational home, Mary refused to believe the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and regularly turned to the Bible and prayer for hope and inspiration.
In December 1843, Mary Baker married a young builder, George Washington Glover, but he died the following June, three months before the birth of their son, George (junior). She found herself back in her parents' New Hampshire home.Six years later her mother died in late 1849. In 1850, still suffering from recurring bouts of illness and no longer having her mother's help, she found she had no choice but to place George junior in the care of the family's former nurse. Mary Baker Glover married Daniel Patterson, in 1853 a dentist, it was an unfruitful relationship: he abandoned her in 1866, and, she divorced him in 1873 on grounds of desertion.
Struggling with chronic illness compounded by personal loss, Mary (surname now) Patterson was preoccupied with questions of health. Like many in her day, she avoided the harsh treatments of conventional 19th-century medicine and its dangerous side effects, seeking instead relief in various alternative treatments of the day. She studied homeopathy in depth and became intrigued by its emphasis on diluting drugs to the point where they all but disappear from the remedy. She experimented with unmedicated pellets (known today as placebos) and concluded that a patient's belief plays a powerful role in the healing process. While investigating such new cures, she continued to seek comfort and insights in the Bible, still drawn by the healing record contained in its pages. Still unwell, Mary sought help from Phineas Quimby, a popularand charismatic healer. Her health initially improved radically under his treatment, which included a combination of mental suggestion and what might now be called therapeutic touch, but she soon suffered a relapse. She returned to Quimby not only for treatment but also to learn more about his approach. Thinking that he had rediscovered Jesus' healing method, she spent hours discussing and exchanging ideas with him. Eventually, she concluded that Quimby's technique depended largely on his charismatic personality.
In 1866 a severe fall on ice left her ill and in a critical condition. Quimby had died just one month earlier so she could not turn to him for help. She asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus' healing, found herself suddenly well. She later referred to this as the moment she discovered Christian Science.
Mary could not explain to others what had happened, but she knew it was the result of what she had read in the Bible. Her conviction grew in the following 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. She published a book 'Science and Health' in 1875, in which 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 taught her system of healing to hundreds of women and men who in turn established successful healing practices across the United States and abroad. In 1877 she married one of her students - Asa Gilbert Eddy - who gave her unflinching support and the name by which she became best known. He died in 1882. Disappointed that existing Christian churches would not embrace her discovery, Mrs. Eddy started her own. In 1879 she secured a charter for the Church of Christ, Scientist, established "to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." Two years later, she founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where she taught until 1889, when she closed the institution to focus on a major revision of Science and Health.
As teacher, author, and preacher, Mary Baker Eddy was leader of the growing 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 building (The Mother Church), built under Mrs. Eddy's direction. In 1895 she published a church manual, establishing guidelines that are followed to this day. It is in this that she made provisions for a lay ministry in Christian Science churches around the world, 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 house for numerous publications by her and her followers.
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, responding to dull journalism, that she started The Christian Science Monitor.Mary Baker Eddy died on December 3, 1910. By that time, her church was growing nationally and internationally, and her best-selling book was in the process of being translated for the first time (into German). Hundreds of tributes appeared in newspapers around the world, including The Boston Globe, which wrote, "She did a wonderful - an extraordinary work in the world and there is no doubt that she was a powerful influence for good."
The church itself was built in 1894. A modest grey stone structure, it is often overlooked by casual visitors as it is dwarfed by the much larger domed extension added in 1906. It boasts one of the world's largest pipe organs, built in 1952 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston. The Mary Baker Eddy Library is housed in an 11-story structure built in 1934 for the Christian Science Publishing Society. The Christian Science Plaza,constructed in the 1970s, covers 14 acres and includes a large administration building, a colonnade, a reflecting pool and a fountain. This was designed by Araldo A. Cossutta. The church, plaza and associated buildings are not only the centre of the Christian Science Church, but are also famous tourist attractions in Boston. Another draw for tourists is the three-story tall Mapparium, a stained glass dome that visitors view from the inside.
Mary Baker Eddy
a worldwide church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, designed “to commemorate the words and works of our Master [Christ Jesus], which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing”.
a teaching college, the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, which continues to prepare teachers of Christian Science.
The Christian Science Publishing Society whose products include numerous books, weekly and monthly magazines, several monthly and quarterly Heralds in a variety of languages, a Bible daily self-study guide, a website with study resources and publisher of a newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.
She was also author of the groundbreaking book on healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is claimed to fully and directly explain the spiritual teaching of the Bible.
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First Church of Christ Scientist
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Mary Baker Eddy Library
Christian Science Monitor