Remembering the legacy of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science




Mary Baker Eddy was a 19th century spiritual thinker and healer who defied the limitations placed on the women of her day. She is best known for founding a religion that offers a wholly spiritual approach to health care known as Christian Science. In honor of National Women’s History Month, it is time to look again at the life of this remarkable woman.

Raised in a devout Congregationalist family on their farm in New Hampshire, Mary was often ill as a child and spent much of her time reading, especially the Bible. Although medical help was frequently sought for her, she found only temporary relief and increasingly turned to the Bible for help and comfort.

Eddy went through many difficult times as an adult. She was widowed early in her marriage, and later her young son was taken from her because she was too ill to care for him. Her second marriage ended in abandonment and divorce due to her husband’s infidelity. Chronic illness, poverty, and homelessness kept her searching for answers to life’s big questions, especially those concerning health. She investigated many of the alternative cures of the day, but always returned to the Bible and the stories of Jesus’ many healings for inspiration and hope.

A severe fall on the ice in 1866 proved to be a life-changing event. Eddy was given little hope of recovery, and she asked for her Bible, opening to Jesus’ healing of the palsied man (Matt.9:2-8). While reading this familiar account, Eddy found herself suddenly and completely well, able to move and walk freely. Those who had gathered in the parlor waiting to hear of her passing, were astonished.

Eddy herself could not explain what had happened, but she spent the next three years diligently studying the Bible, seeking to understand how she had been healed and how Jesus healed. Her steadfast prayer, study and practice of the truth she discovered convinced her that spiritual healing was not only possible but also a provable and reliable method of health care.

Six more years of rigorous scriptural study, healing, speaking and teaching resulted in the publication of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” in 1875. This book is considered the textbook of Christian Science and outlines the “science” behind this healing method. It has now sold over 10 million copies and been translated into 16 languages. The book concludes with 100 pages of letters Eddy received testifying to healings of a wide range of illnesses, injuries, addictions and character flaws that resulted from reading “Science and Health.”


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Eddy went on to teach her healing system to hundreds of men and women and eventually founded her own church when it was clear that the established churches of her day would not embrace her discovery of the principles of spiritual healing. She continued to write, work and pray for the betterment of all mankind, and, at the age of 87, she started the Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper designed “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” Famous for its integrity and unbiased reporting, the Monitor is available today online at csmonitor.com, as well as a weekly print edition.

All of Eddy’s many accomplishments came at a time in our society when women were largely thought to be inferior. They were not allowed to vote, conduct business, purchase property or manage their own affairs. They were largely barred from pulpits and seminaries, and yet she found that reliance on God opened doors, brought spiritual insight, and enabled her to write, publish, preach, heal and establish a worldwide religious movement.

Additional information about Eddy’s life and healing work can be found at the Christian Science Reading Room, located at 110 West Vine St. Here her writings, as well as numerous biographies and reminiscences, can be borrowed or purchased.

Joan Clark represents the Christian Science Church on the Redlands Area Interfaith Council. She is a Sunday school superintendent and teacher at the Christian Science Church. A retired public and elementary school librarian, Clark now is a classroom volunteer and enthusiastic grandparent.



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