Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.
Mary Morse Baker was born in Bow, New Hampshire, the youngest of six children of Abigail and Mark Baker. Although raised a Congregationalist, she came to reject teachings such as predestination and original sin.
She suffered chronic illness and developed a strong interest in
biblical accounts of early Christian healing. At the age of eight, she
wrote, she began to hear voices calling her name.
On December 10, 1843, Eddy married George Washington Glover. He died of yellow fever
on June 27, 1844, a little over two months before the birth of their
only child, George Washington Glover. As a single mother of poor health,
Eddy wrote some political pieces for the New Hampshire Patriot. She also worked as a substitute teacher in the New Hampshire Conference Seminary.
Her success there led to her briefly opening an experimental school
which was an early attempt to introduce kindergarten methods (love
instead of harshness for discipline; interest instead of compulsion to
impart knowledge), but this, like other similar attempts at this time
was not accepted and soon closed. The social climate of the time made it very difficult for a widowed woman to earn money.
Eddy continued to have poor health and her son was put into the care of
neighbors by her father and stepmother. She married Dr. Daniel
Patterson, a dentist, in 1853, hoping he would adopt the young boy.
Patterson apparently signed papers to that effect on their wedding day,
but failed to follow through on his promise.
Eddy was often bedridden during this period. Her stepmother did not
welcome Eddy or her child. A neighbor couple with a small farm and no
children took up the care of the boy for a fee. When this couple, who
found the boy useful in the farm labor, decided to move to the Prairie
territories, without Eddy's knowledge, some of Eddy's family arranged
that the couple should take the child along with money given them by her
father. The failure of Patterson to make good on his promises of
reunification with her now far-distant son plunged Eddy into despair.
Her desire to recover her health led her to seek healing in the various
systems fashionable of the period, including electrical treatments, morphine, homeopathy, hydropathy, Grahamism, and mesmerism.
Patterson ran into financial difficulty. He mortgaged Eddy's
furniture, jewelry, and books, but was unable to keep current on their
property in Groton, New Hampshire, and was eventually forced to vacate. Eddy's sister, Abigail, moved her to Rumney, six miles away
After her separation from Patterson she wandered about for four years
living with different families, in Lynn, Amesbury, or some of the
In October 1862 Eddy became a patient of Phineas Quimby, a magnetic healer from Maine. She benefited temporarily by his treatment. From 1862 to 1865 Quimby and Eddy engaged in lengthy discussions about healing methods practiced by Quimby and others. Phineas P.
Quimby believed in a "science of health" achieved by direct
mental healing that had religious overtones. Baker was seemingly cured,
but her suffering recurred after Quimby's death.
In 1866, she fell on
ice and her suffering increased. She turned to the New Testament and
was suddenly healed, which led her to discover what she later called
Christian Science, or the "superiority of spiritual over physical
Convinced by her own study of the Bible, especially Genesis 1, and
through experimentation, Eddy claimed to have found healing power
through a higher sense of God as Spirit and man as God's spiritual
"image and likeness." She became convinced that illness could be healed
through an awakened thought brought about by a clearer perception of God
and the explicit rejection of drugs, hygiene and medicine based upon
the observation that Jesus did not use these methods for healing:
In 1873, Eddy divorced Daniel Patterson for adultery.
In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy; in 1882 they moved to Boston, and he died that year.
In 1875, she set down her principles in a voluminous work called
Science and Health, and in 1876 founded the Christian Science Association then the Church of Christ, Scientist (1879). She also founded the Christian Science Publishing Society (1898), which continues to publish a number of periodicals, including The Christian Science Monitor (1908).
In 1881, she founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where she taught approximately 800 students in Boston, Massachusetts between the years 1882 and 1889. Her students spread across the country practicing healing, and
instructing others, in accordance with Eddy's teachings. Eddy authorized
these students to list themselves as Christian Science Practitioners in the church's periodical, The Christian Science Journal. She also founded the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine with articles about how to heal and testimonies of healing.
Eddy died on the evening of December 3, 1910 at her home at 400 Beacon Street, in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton, Massachusetts.
Today, there are almost 1,700 Christian Science churches in 76 countries.
I've copied most of this text from Wikipedia and given the link above...so all the footnotes go to the text there.
I've spoken before about my own life having been a Christian Scientist until I was 20 years old. So this woman's work greatly influenced myself and my family. I had at least 2 Christian Science Practitioners in my family.