Eddy, Mary Baker

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Eddy, Mary Baker

Mary Baker Eddy, 1821–1910, founder of the Christian Science movement, b. Bow, N.H. As physical frailty prevented her regular school attendance, she spent the early part of her education learning at home from her brother Albert Baker. She later attended Holmes Academy at Plymouth and Sanbornton Academy. At a young age she published poetry and prose in periodicals. Widowed six months after her marriage to George W. Glover and responsible for their child (also named George W. Glover), she spent nine years among relatives, teaching at times and often in ill health. Married in 1853 to Daniel Patterson, a dentist, she lived in the country for some time, and later moved to Lynn, Mass. Having heard of the success in mental healing of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, she went in 1862 to Portland, Maine. She received benefit from his treatment and became his pupil, but began to harbor doubts about Quimby's concept of mind as spiritual matter and his hostility to religion. In 1866 she separated from her husband; she later (1873) obtained a divorce. The year 1866 marks the actual beginning of Christian Science as she apprehended it. In the ensuing years, she refined the doctrine and plans for her new church. In 1875, she published the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health (later Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures). She remarried for the last time in 1877, to Asa Gilbert Eddy, an active Christian Scientist. She founded the Journal of Christian Science in 1883, and edited the periodical for some time. As leader of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy herself planned the Church Manual for the conduct of the Church of Christ, Scientist, and directed every detail in its upbuilding. She lived in Boston for seven years, from 1882, then near Concord, N.H., until 1908, when she made her home in Chestnut Hill, near Boston. As pastor emeritus of the Mother Church in Boston and head of the whole church with all its branches, she exercised a strong influence, even in the retirement of her later years. In 1908, she founded the Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper. Her writings include Retrospection and Introspection (1891), Miscellaneous Writings (1896), and Messages to the Mother Church (1900, 1901, 1902).

See biographies by S. Wilbur (1929 ed.), R. Peel (3 vol., 1966–77), and J. Silberger (1980).

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