As the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy created a faith tradition that has continued to provide comfort and a place of worship for a number of people. Here is some background on Mary Eddy, and the events that led to her theology of Divine Science.
Mary Baker Eddy was born Mary Morse Baker on 16 July 1821. Married to George Washington Glover in 1843, she took the name of Mary Baker Glover and settled into married life, shortly becoming pregnant with the couple’s first child. Unfortunately, Glover died two months before the birth of their son, George Glover, Jr.
In time, Mary Glover lost custody of her son, due to ill health and an inability to care for the child. An attempt by her second husband, Dr. Daniel Patterson, to return the son to her was never successful, and Mrs. Patterson reached a point where her physical and mental condition was severely weakened. Later in life, her second marriage ended in divorce and she married Asa G. Eddy.
Seeking to improve her health, Mary Baker Eddy turned to alternative healing methods, including the use of herbal medicine and homeopathic remedies. During her search, she became acquainted with the magnetic healing techniques used by Phineas Quimby. Undergoing a series of treatments under the direction of Quimby, Mrs. Patterson began to regain a measure of health. She also was introduced to some basic ideas about the relationship between emotional and mental stress and their effects on the physical condition. This concept was to stay with here in later years, and while refined over time, would play an important role in her development of what was to become known as Christian Science.
Following a back injury in February 1866, Mrs. Eddy documents that she received healing by reading passages from the Bible. This spurred her to investigate further the miracles and healings detailed with Christian scripture. Over the next three years, she slowly developed a belief system based on her research and her prior understandings about the relationship between mind and body. Formulating a principle that healing could occur by obtaining a deeper understanding of God, Mary Baker Eddy began to offer healing readings to persons of her acquaintance, often with great success.
During the early 1870s, Mary Baker Eddy wrote what was to become the foundational document for Christian Science, entitled Science and Health With Key To The Scriptures. While the average Christian Scientist does not consider this or any other writings of Mrs. Eddy to be on the same level with the accepted canon of the Bible, the work is often read in worship services along with corresponding passages from Scripture. Shortly after the publication of Science and Health in 1976, Mrs. Eddy began to compose The Manual for the Mother Church, which is also utilized regularly in Christian Science worship.
Opening the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston, Mary Baker Eddy found loyal devotees who were more than willing to spread the news of Christian Science across the nation. From 1882 to 1889, Mrs. Eddy trained and authorized these devotees to act as Christian Science practitioners, announcing their status in the journals and publications of the new church.
One of the most enduring accomplishments outside the founding of the Christian Science faith came near the end of the life of Mary Bake Glover Eddy. In 1908, she established the Christian Science Monitor as a daily newspaper. Over the years, the newspaper grew into a national publication, read by people of all walks of life. The Monitor was already a success when Mrs. Eddy passed away on 3 December 1910.
Hundreds of thousands of people today still look to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy for spiritual enlightenment as well as healing from physical and emotional ailments. As an enduring legacy for this 19th century religious pioneer, the Church of Christ, Scientist still maintains congregations around the United States, as well as a few international locations. While there are many critics of both the faith tradition she created and Mary Baker Eddy herself, few would deny that she made a great impact on the American religious landscape.