Born and raised on a New Hampshire farm, Mary Baker Eddy’s parents emphasized the presence of God in everyday life and the importance of studying the Scriptures. From an early age Eddy turned trustingly to God in prayer, her Bible a constant companion. In her growing-up years, Eddy was often ill; in an effort to seek relief in her adult years, she tried homeopathy, allopathy, dietary cures, mesmerism, hydropathy, and other popular “cures” of the day. But none of those methods brought lasting relief.
One wintry night in her mid-40s, Eddy slipped and fell on an icy street and was taken to a nearby house with serious internal injuries. After three days she did not appear to be improving and was expected to die. Lying in bed, Eddy asked for her Bible. After reading an account of Christ Jesus healing the man with the withered hand, she was healed—much to the surprise of her pastor, doctor, and friends. Unfortunately, in the face of disbelief, she then relapsed. But, she was healed a second time after again opening her Bible, this time to the account of Christ Jesus healing the man confined to his bed with palsy [paralysis]. Continuing study and inspiration resulted in a permanent healing of her injuries—without the use of medication.
It wasn’t enough for her that she was physically healed. She wanted to understand the how of the healing—and set about studying her Bible deeply, taking copious notes on the scientific basis of Jesus’ healings. Three years she studied and wrote. In her autobiography, she writes of that time, “The Bible was my textbook. It answered my questions as to how I was healed; but the Scriptures had to me a new meaning, a new tongue. Their spiritual signification appeared; and I apprehended for the first time, in their spiritual meaning, Jesus’ teaching and demonstration, and the Principle and rule of spiritual Science and metaphysical healing, — in a word, Christian Science. … The miracles recorded in the Bible, which had before seemed to me supernatural, grew divinely natural and apprehensible…” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 25).
Those years of Bible study eventually led to her writing the definitive textbook on Christianly scientific healing, called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The last 100 pages of this book contain testimonials of people who were healed—mentally and physically—simply by reading Science and Health. First published in 1875, it has today sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 16 languages; healings experienced by readers of this volume continue today.
While Eddy saw herself as having discovered the spiritual science behind Jesus' healing works, she expressly disavowed the notion that she was comparable to him. When asked by a newspaper in 1895 if she considered herself "the second Christ", she replied frankly: "Even the question shocks me... There was, is, and never can be but one God, one Christ, one Jesus of Nazareth" (Pulpit and Press, p. 74-5). She loved Christ Jesus so much that the Church she founded was organized to "... commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Church Manual, p. 17).
Eddy founded her church in 1879, and later ordained the Bible and Science and Health as pastor of the church. Sermons in Christian Science churches consist of the reading of a weekly Bible Lesson on a given topic; this Lesson is studied throughout the week and then read aloud on Sundays.
Today, the headquarters of the Christian Science Church are in Boston, Massachusetts, and local “branch churches” can be found throughout the world—all holding weekly Sunday services using the same Bible Lesson, as well as mid-week meetings where members of the congregation publicly share how they’ve experienced healing through their practice of Christian Science.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library
The Mary Baker Eddy Library opened in 2002 as a place for people to explore the life, ideas, and achievements of Mary Baker Eddy. Established as a cultural and historical institution, this world-class Library and museum provides educational experiences, programs, and exhibits featuring the Mapparium®, the Hall of Ideas®, and the Quest Gallery. The Library also offers user-friendly access to its vast collections through Research and Reference Services. As its primary resource, the Library’s collections include one of the largest collections by and about an American woman. To learn more about the Library, visit their website, marybakereddylibrary.org.
Articles about Mary Baker Eddy in Christian Science publications
The Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Sentinel, and The Herald of Christian Science regularly publish articles which explain how Mary Baker Eddy's perspective on Jesus' life and teachings has improved their lives and Christian practice. Below are a few examples.