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Mary Baker Eddy






























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Mary Baker Eddy's Healing Work
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Retrospection and Introspection






































































































































































Inspired Mission

Hers was the God-ordered mission — symbolized in Revelation as a woman clothed with the sun, the radiance of spiritual truth — inspired by the deific Mind to proclaim the message which, Christ Jesus said, "will guide you into all truth."

Paul Stark Seeley, CSB







A Biographical Sketch


Glimpses of spiritual reality have lightened the darkness of material history for centuries. But it was left for one woman to receive this full revelation of Truth in this age, — Mary Baker Eddy. The parentage, education, experience, and remarkable spirituality of Mrs. Eddy had made her well fitted for the mission to which God had called her. She possessed a remarkable degree of spirituality even in childhood, and rapidly developed into that individuality which was needed to voice to this age the Science of Christianity.

In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, she recorded the "experiences which led her, in the year 1866, to the discovery of the system that she denominated Christian Science" (Science and Health, p. viii).

Childhood and Background
Mary Baker Eddy was born on July 16, 1821, in Bow, New Hampshire, five miles from Concord, the state capital. The Baker family had been in New England for six generations. Mary Baker’s father was Mark Baker, who married Abigail Ambrose of Pembroke, New Hampshire.

Mary Baker Eddy's Birth Place

Both on the paternal and maternal side, the future Discoverer of Christian Science was descended from members of the Congregational Church.

One of Mary Baker’s brothers was Albert Baker, who graduated from Dartmouth College, studied law with Franklin Pierce (who later became President of the United States), and was admitted to the bar in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. With Albert, she studied moral science, natural philosophy, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew grammar.

At an early age the question of her joining the church presented itself, but she showed opposition to the decree of predestination as taught in the Congregational church. In spite of her stout declaration of disbelief in this, she was nevertheless admitted. She states in her autobiography Retrospection and Introspection, on page 15, “My connection with this religious body was retained till I founded a church of my own, built on the basis of Christian Science, ‘Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.’”

The Baker family moved to Tilton when Mary was fifteen, and she then attended the private school of Professor H. Dyer Sanborn. Under this instruction and the intellectual and spiritual guidance of the Rev. Enoch Corser, pastor of the Tilton church, Mary made great progress in her studies. She had shown from early on a love for poetry, which later manifested itself in the writing of those hymns found in the Christian Science Hymnal which are treasured by Christian Scientists today for their comforting and healing effects.

Marriage to George Glover

In 1843 Mary Baker married George Washington Glover, a young man who had been associated with Samuel Baker, her elder brother, as a contractor and builder. Originally from Concord, New Hampshire, Mr. Glover had established himself in business in Charleston, South Carolina. Mary Baker Glover first came into touch with slavery in the South. Her husband owned some slaves and her sense of right revolted against the practice.

George W. Glover

Hardly a year had passed since her marriage when her husband had occasion to go to Wilmington, North Carolina, on business and took her with him. Yellow fever was found to be raging in that city, and Mr. Glover was incapacitated by the disease and died, leaving his young widow. Mrs. Glover set free her husband’s slaves, and was then escorted as far north as New York, where her brother George met her and took her back to her father’s home, which she had so lately left. A boy was born to her not long after her return, and she named him after her husband, George Washington Glover.

A Challenging Time
In 1849 Mrs. Glover’s mother died, and about a year later her father remarried. There was a rearrangement of domestic affairs. Mrs. Glover’s nurse during her prolonged illness following childbirth was to be married, and it was planned by the family that Mrs. Glover’s son George should go to live with the nurse in her new home, as Mrs. Glover’s health was precarious, and she was about to move into her sister Abigail’s house, where her little son might prove too great a charge. Against this plan Mrs. Glover protested vigorously, and only gave up her child when no escape from this necessity presented itself.

Mrs. Glover continued to write on the subject of slavery, which was daily becoming a more and more burning question and was soon to culminate in the Civil War. She had made a brief experiment of opening a children’s school somewhat on the lines of the kindergarten system, but the times were not ready for this venture and she soon abandoned it. Her position of dependence upon her family was at times exceedingly difficult to bear, especially as she found herself moving farther and farther away from their views on the vital questions of the day. Her invalidism made her helpless to resist the drift of her life into almost constant confinement.

At this time, spiritualism and allied beliefs were stirring public thought. Mrs. Glover interested herself in these matters as she did in the question of slavery, and gradually won her way to definite convictions concerning spiritualism, mesmerism, and animal magnetism (later called hypnotism), convictions which she has recorded in her writings.

Marriage to Dr. Patterson

In 1853 Mrs. Glover, after nine years of widowhood, married Dr. Daniel Patterson, a dentist, a relative of her father’s second wife. She expected from this marriage that it would enable her to take her child back into a home of her own and give her the necessary freedom to work out her individual life problem.

Mary in 1853

In Retrospection and Introspection, page 20, we read: “My dominant thought in marrying again was to get back my child, but after our marriage his stepfather was not willing he should have a home with me.”

This initial disappointment clouded the whole relationship and drove Mrs. Patterson more and more into that life of introspection which was preparing her through much tribulation for the eventual illumination of her great discovery.

Searching for Healing
In the endeavor to regain her health, Mrs. Patterson tried many experiments and followed many systems. She strictly observed the laws of hygiene, as then understood, subjecting herself to a strict diet and to a regular system of bathing. She likewise began the study of homeopathy, but the acts of spiritual healing recorded in the Scriptures were never altogether absent from her thought.

During her life certain inexplicable occurrences had startled her thought into taking new paths. An experience while she was a child has been recorded in the following language (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 8):

"Many peculiar circumstances and events connected with my childhood throng the chambers of memory. For some twelve months, when I was about eight years old, I repeatedly heard a voice, calling me distinctly by name, three times, in an ascending scale. I thought this was my mother’s voice, and sometimes went to her, beseeching her to tell me what she wanted. Her answer was always, ‘Nothing, child! What do you mean?’ Then I would say, ‘Mother, who did call me? I heard somebody call Mary, three times!’ This continued until I grew discouraged, and my mother was perplexed and anxious.”

Later, when this call repeated itself, the child, on the advice of her mother, answered in the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth,” and thereafter the call was not repeated.

In Rumney a mother came to her with a child in her arms who was suffering from inflamed eyes. Mrs. Patterson took the child in her arms, lifted her thought to God, and the child was healed. These and other instances had caused Mrs. Patterson to ponder. She kept them stored in her heart, waiting until the time when an explanation should be vouchsafed her.

Association with Phineas Quimby
About this time Doctor Patterson had heard of the healing powers of a certain Phineas P. Quimby of Portland, Maine, and desired him to try to cure her. There was some correspondence. Mrs. Patterson wrote to Doctor Quimby about her proposed visit to him, but before this could be carried out her sister Abigail, now Mrs. Tilton, had taken her to a water-cure sanitarium at a place called Hill. In October of 1862 Mrs. Patterson finally arrived in Portland, and was assisted into the office of Doctor Quimby, who, she imagined, had discovered the method by which cures were effected in Bible times, and on whom she looked as a living example of a modern practitioner of spiritual healing.

This visit marks Mrs. Patterson’s contact with that which she was later to uncover as being not the Principle of spiritual healing itself, but the subtle counterfeit of the same, as the application of human willpower, instead of the realization or recognition of the truth of being about God, man, and the universe. The future Discoverer of Christian Science was here making her acquaintance at first hand with the phenomena of self-will as distinct from spiritual understanding, and it is not to be wondered at that at first she was baffled by the apparent resemblance between the effects of both methods and should have been induced to believe the magnetic practice of Phineas P. Quimby to be the demonstration of the power of Spirit over untoward physical conditions.

The one feature of his practice which forever excludes it from any resemblance to Christian Science was the belief that he, as a personality, was the healer of disease, that some curative, magnetic fluid was conveyed from himself to his patients.

The method of Quimby was therefore merely a personal belief with himself, a familiar phase of mental suggestion, similar in character to various methods based on mesmerism and animal magnetism (more recently called hypnotism). It was not based upon Principle, was not scientific, and did not attempt to explain the acts recorded in the Scriptures and commonly denoted as miracles.

While due credit must be given to Quimby as a sincere and courageous experimenter in the phenomena of magnetism, no doubt should be permitted as to the essential nature of his practice. It was not what Mrs. Patterson later discovered as Christian Science, nor did it even contain the germ from which Christian Science could originate; neither does the fact that Mrs. Patterson was temporarily cured of physical ills of long standing by Quimby’s method militate against this conclusion, nor indeed the further fact that Mrs. Patterson herself imagined Quimby to possess an understanding of God’s law and was ready to proclaim him as the discoverer of the true nature of the healing done in Bible times. The trend of her thought inevitably gave his practice a religious significance.

Mrs. Patterson was deeply grateful for her relief, but Mr. Quimby did not understand her religious explanation of his practice, and there seems to have remained in his mind only a confused belief that it was God as Principle who mesmerized. It was not until later years that Mrs. Patterson herself reached the conviction that mesmerism was not of God.

In course of time, Mrs. Patterson learned that the mesmeric magnetic method of treating disease was in fact a subtle counterfeit of the true, a method at once destructive to health and dangerous to character. For some years, from the time of her relief from invalidism until her discovery of Christian Science in 1866, she was apparently under the impression that the solution of true mental healing long sought by her was represented by Quimby’s method.

In 1862 and in 1864 Mrs. Patterson wrote down her impressions of his system and turned over the manuscripts to him. In view of their collaboration Mrs. Patterson signed Quimby’s name to these manuscripts, and this gave rise in later times to the report of Quimby manuscripts being in existence from which Mrs. Patterson was assumed to have derived Christian Science. For information on the Quimby manuscripts hoax, click here.

In 1864 Mrs. Patterson moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, with her husband, who there opened an office and engaged in dental practice. Her health was now good and she took an active part in life once more, not only writing for the Lynn newspapers but also attending church and going out into society.

An Accident and Recovery
Mrs. Patterson was returning home one evening from a meeting in the company of friends, when she sustained an accident which was to become memorable by reason of its immediate result. The Lynn Reporter of February 3, 1866, made mention of the following:

"Mrs. Mary Patterson of Swampscott fell upon the ice near the corner of Market and Oxford Streets on Thursday evening and was severely injured. She was taken up in an insensible condition and carried into the residence of S.M. Bubier, Esq., near by, where she was kindly cared for during the night. Doctor Cushing, who was called, found her injuries to be internal and of a serious nature, inducing spasms and internal suffering. She was removed to her home in Swampscott yesterday afternoon, though in a critical condition.”

Of this accident and her recovery, Mrs. Eddy herself afterward published the following explanation:

"St. Paul writes: ‘For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’ This knowledge came to me in an hour of great need; and I give it to you as death-bed testimony to the daystar that dawned on the night of material sense. This knowledge is practical, for it wrought my immediate recovery from an injury caused by an accident, and pronounced fatal by the physicians. On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it at Matthew ix. 2. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed. That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 24:1-18)

We have already quoted Mrs. Eddy’s words concerning this discovery, as contained in Retrospection and Introspection. Taken in connection with the above description, her words show clearly the impassable gulf between Christian Science and any method of personal magnetic healing. Her recovery was due to the Word of God, a spiritual illumination from the divine Mind, and in this sense was wholly impersonal in its nature.

Here, indeed, was the healing for which she had always striven, which she felt must be at hand did one only know how to realize its presence. Here at last was the ideal toward which her whole life had tended from her childhood experiences, her stout refusal to believe in a cruel God, her insistent conviction that divine Love is the liberator of mankind from all woe. This conviction had only been fortified by the measure of sorrow and suffering through which she had passed. Even her experience with the subtle counterfeit of spiritual healing had not disabled her from recognizing the real healing when it dawned upon her consciousness. Thereafter she could never be deceived again, never be in doubt as to what constituted the healing of Bible times. Nor from the moment of her discovery does she ever seem to have hesitated about her manifest mission to give this truth to the world.

Her experiences for the next ten years proved inexpressibly hard, and one would gladly omit all chronicle of them, did they not prove, as perhaps nothing else can do, the unquestioning attitude of her mind toward her mission. It must be understood that as the discovery of Christian Science is inseparable from Mrs. Eddy’s human experience, so also is its development.

Searching the Scriptures
Then followed Doctor Patterson’s desertion of his wife, and Mrs. Patterson was obliged to secure a decree of divorce from him. Her father and mother having passed away, she might naturally have gone to the home of her sister, Mrs. Tilton, but the sister made it a condition that she should forsake her unconventional religious convictions, and this Mary Baker was determined not to do. She turned now more and more to the elucidation of the meaning of her discovery and its practical application to human affairs. She chose poverty rather than ease, and now began a life of involuntary wandering from one home to another, from one boarding place to another, the life of a student searching the Scriptures, nourishing her glorious discovery, applying it where she was welcomed; sometimes loved and appreciated, more often misunderstood and even traduced; healing the sick, transforming character, and always writing, writing that mankind at large might gain the spiritual revelation which had come to her.

At first she may have thought that the world would instantly grasp this good news, as eagerly as she herself had done, but she was soon to be undeceived as to any immediate readiness on the part of mankind to assimilate Christian Science. Here and there she found some one ready to listen.

Her First Student
While she was boarding with a family of the name of Clark, she met a Mr. Hiram S. Crafts and his wife. He was an expert workman in the shoe trade. Finding him ready to accept her teachings, Mary Baker made him her first student, and he was soon able to set up as a mental healer and prove the truth of what he had been taught for himself.

As time went on she began to teach little classes of students. Some of these students fell away in the hour of test, and Mary Baker had to experience many of those sudden antagonisms, misunderstandings, and controversies which at first were inexplicable to her, but which later became apparent as the subtle working of an innate resistance in human consciousness to the absolute facts of being.

In 1870 Mary Baker finished a manuscript entitled “The Science of Man.” She copyrighted this manuscript, but did not publish it immediately, and eventually issued it as the chapter entitled Recapitulation in Science and Health. This may be accepted as the first scientific exposition of her discovery made four years before.

Science and Health Published
In 1875, while residing in Lynn, Massachusetts, Mary Baker finished her book Science and Health, placed it in the hands of a publisher, and an edition of one thousand copies was issued. In that year also was made the first beginning of a Christian Science church, when a number of her students united in inviting her to hold meetings and preach to them every Sunday, and subscribed a weekly salary for her.

In 1877 Mary Baker Glover was married to Mr. Asa G. Eddy, who, being in bad health, had been sent to her for treatment. She had healed him, had taken him through one of her classes, and had learned to trust him so thoroughly that she had placed many of her affairs in his charge.

Growing Interest in Christian Science
Mrs. Eddy began to lecture in Boston before audiences growing ever larger and more appreciative. Her home with Mr. Eddy provided her an atmosphere of peace and security for her teaching and healing work.

The beginning of a Christian Science church made in 1875 had not survived the disaffection of some of her students, but in 1876 the Christian Scientist Association was formed, which fulfilled the needs of the times.

In 1879, Mrs. Eddy's followers and students formed the "Church of Christ, Scientist," with Mrs. Eddy appointed pastor. In 1892 a reorganization of this church took place and the name adopted of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist,” which it holds today.

Services were held in Hawthorne Hall in Boston, and in 1882 Mr. and Mrs. Eddy moved to that city, but Mr. Eddy passed away in that same year, and Mrs. Eddy once more faced the world alone in her efforts to establish Christian Science upon a sure footing.

The Massachusetts Metaphysical College

In 1881 Mrs. Eddy opened the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston. Of this foundation she writes in the Preface of Science and Health (p. xi), that it was accomplished “under the seal of the Commonwealth,” a law relative to colleges having been passed which enabled her to get this institution chartered for medical purposes. Mrs. Eddy closed this college in 1889 in order to devote herself to the revision of Science and Health, but retained her charter and reopened the college in 1899.

The Massachusetts Metaphysical College

The Christian Science Journal
In 1883 the Journal of Christian Science was first published. This magazine, of which Mrs. Eddy was the editor and publisher, became the official organ of the Christian Science church, under the title The Christian Science Journal.

Many of Mrs. Eddy’s articles in the Journal were later collected by her and issued as her book “Miscellaneous Writings.” During this year also, Mrs. Eddy found herself constrained to sue a former student for the infringement of her copyright, and the United States circuit in Boston sustained her plea and issued an injunction against the pirated works, ordering them to be destroyed.

A Far-Reaching Movement
Christian Science now began to spread to other parts of the United States. In 1884 Mrs. Eddy spent a month in Chicago, initiating thereby a far-reaching movement which soon permeated the whole of the western field. On her return to Boston Mrs. Eddy continued to write and direct the various departments which she had founded.

In 1887 she moved into a house of her own at 385 Commonwealth Avenue. In 1888 she once more visited Chicago, this time to attend the National Christian Scientist Association, and made an address at the Central Music Hall before an audience of about four thousand. A year later Mrs. Eddy addressed an audience in Steinway Hall, New York, but thereafter withdrew more and more from public appearances.

In 1879 Mrs. Eddy’s son, George Glover, had been located by her in Minnesota, and upon her request had come to Boston to visit her, but he did not seem open to the reception of Christian Science teaching. In 1887 he repeated the visit to his mother, this time bringing his children with him, and was affectionately received by Mrs. Eddy, who presented the children to the congregation of The Mother Church. Her son soon returned to the West, and Mrs. Eddy, looking for some one to help her in her immediate surroundings, conceived the idea of adopting as her son Dr. Ebenezer Johnson Foster, a former physician who had become interested in Christian Science, had received instruction in the college, and who resided with other students in Mrs. Eddy’s household.

Pleasant View

From 1892 to 1908 Mrs. Eddy resided at Pleasant View, a house situated on the outskirts of Concord, New Hampshire, on rising ground overlooking a large expanse of hill and valley. Here she spent fifteen fruitful years.

Pleasant View

It was during these years that Mrs. Eddy was fine-tuning the organization of the Christian Science church, supervising the various means she had founded for placing her discovery before the public, writing occasional messages to the church, revising her writings to make her meaning clearer, receiving visitors from all parts of the world whither her teachings had penetrated, keeping in close touch with her pupils who were occupying positions of trust, but ever withdrawing more and more from a merely personal sense of herself on the part of others, and discouraging any personal adulation which the beneficiaries of Christian Science might be inclined to place upon her.

Expansion throughout the World
The Christian Science church which had originally met in Hawthorne Hall, then in Chickering Hall, was now about to acquire a church building of its own. After some vicissitudes, a church occupying the triangle at the junction of Norway and Falmouth Streets, in the Back Bay district of Boston, was finished at the end of December, 1894, and dedicated in January 1895. And in 1902 an extension was added.

Mrs. Eddy’s followers were now found among all classes of society and among the principal nations of the earth. Christian Science not only covered the United States and Canada, but also many parts of the world.

Mrs. Eddy established one by one the different means by which Christian Science is placed before the public. She founded the periodicals of the denomination, beginning with The Christian Science Journal, a monthly to which reference has already been made; Der Herold der Christian Science, printed in German; the Christian Science Sentinel ; The Christian Science Quarterly contained the weekly Christian Science Lesson-Sermons; and The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper.

Mrs. Eddy's Passing
In 1908 Mrs. Eddy decided to leave Pleasant View and took a house in Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Boston, where she quietly passed away in the winter of 1910, full of years and good works, greatly beloved by a multitude of men, women, and children in all parts of the world, who have been redeemed and healed by her teachings.

This sketch has been adapted from "Christian Science: Its Discovery and Development" by William D. McCrackan.

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Friendly Biographers
"One's enemies never could do one justice in writing one's record, and it follows that only the friends of Mrs. Eddy — those who have known and loved her most — can really give a correct estimate of her."


The Truth About Mary Baker Eddy
"For the world to understand me in my true light, and life, would do more for our Cause than all else could. This I learn from the fact that the enemy tries harder to hide these two things from the world than to win any other points. Also, Jesus' life and character in their first appearing were treated in like manner."

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