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Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker EddyAKA Mary Ann Morse Baker

Born: 16-Jul-1821
Birthplace: Bow, NH
Died: 3-Dec-1910
Location of death: Chestnut Hill, MA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

Gender: Female
Religion: Christian Science
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founded Christian Science movement

Mary Baker Eddy was raised in the Congregational Church, in a devout family that stressed prayer and Bible and catechism study. Her father was reportedly stern and quick-tempered, her mother enthusiastically obedient to his authority, and their daughter was a frail child who grew into a sickly adult. Her first husband died of yellow fever within months of their wedding, leaving her pregnant with his son, whom she gave up when he was seven. Her second husband was a traveling dentist who left her alone for months at a time and was frequently unfaithful. She took her last name from her six-year marriage to her third husband, sewing machine salesman Asa Gilbert Eddy.

While her second husband was held prisoner-of-war by Confederate forces, she sought treatment for her perpetual pains from Phineas P. Quimby, a celebrity "mesmerist" (what might now be called a spiritualist or hypnotist). He had trained as a clockmaker but gained fame using trances to induce "mental healing". Shortly after Quimby's death in 1866, Eddy was seriously injured slipping on ice, and credited her recuperation to a combination of Quimby's methods and her own reading of New Testament accounts of Jesus Christ's healings of the sick. Over the next several years she became a so-called healer herself, and wrote the early papers that formed the basis for her Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science), which she claimed represented scientific proof of the existence of "Mother-Father God" and non-existence of both evil and matter. Less famously and less successfully, she also founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in 1881.

There were allegations that Eddy's writings were at least partially plagiarized from Quimby's work, and a flurry of lawsuits were filed by and against her early followers. There were further whispers of scandal when, at the age of 67, the widow Eddy adopted a 41-year-old man as her son, and soon retired to virtual hermitage. Her teachings were ridiculed by Mark Twain and countless established religious leaders, but Christian Science grew rapidly during its early years, and in 1893 her church was granted respectability with an invitation to participate in the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In 1894 she designated the Bible and her own book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as "pastor" of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, and effective controller of Christian Science. The church established the Christian Science Sentinel in 1898, and Christian Science Monitor in 1908.

Of course, Eddy's most controversial and deadly teaching was that "the sick are never really healed by drugs, hygiene, or any material method", only by "Mother-Father God". The first presumably preventable deaths among Christian Scientists were reported in 1888, when Eddy herself oversaw a birth that left both mother and child dead. Deaths among Christian Scientists who refuse medical treatment have been regular headline fodder ever since, but fortunately, another tenet of Eddy's teachings is that death is but "an illusion", "unreal and untrue." In 1907 her son from her first marriage sued, unsuccessfully, to have Eddy declared incompetent and take control of her by-then very sizable assets. Until her death in 1910, Eddy continued to be plagued by poor health, which she attributed to "malicious animal magnetism".

She was a cousin of Ora Ray Baker, the wife of Inayat Khan. Her brother, Albert Baker, was a lawyer who apprenticed under Franklin Pierce while Pierce was a US Congressman.

Father: Mark Baker (b. 2-May-1785, d. 6-Oct-1865)
Mother: Abigail Bernard Ambrose Baker (b. 13-Apr-1784, d. 21-Nov-1849)
Brother: Samuel Baker (b. 8-Jul-1808)
Brother: Albert Baker (attorney, b. 5-Feb-1810, d. 1841 kidney infection)
Brother: George Sullivan Baker (b. 7-Aug-1812)
Sister: Abigail Tilton (b. 15-Jan-1816)
Sister: Martha Smith Baker (b. 19-Jan-1819)
Husband: George Washington Glover (b. circa 1818, m. 11-Dec-1843, d. 27-Jun-1844 yellow fever)
Son: George Washington Glover, Jr. (b. 12-Sep-1844)
Husband: Daniel Patterson (dentist, b. circa 1818, m. 21-Jun-1853, sep. 1866, div. 1873, d. 1896)
Husband: Asa Gilbert Eddy (salesman, b. circa 1819, m. 1-Jan-1877, d. 2-Jun-1882, heart failure)
Son: Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy (homeopath, b. 1847, adopted 1888)

    High School: Holmes Academy, Plymouth, NH
    High School: Woodman-Sanbornton Academy, Sanbornton Bridge, NH

    Christian Science Monitor Founder (1908)
    Founded Religion (1879)
    National Women's Hall of Fame 1995
    English Ancestry
    Scottish Ancestry

Rotten Library Page:
Mary Baker Eddy

Author of books:
Science and Health (1875)
Christian Healing (1880)
The People's God (1883)
Historical Sketches of Metaphysical Healing (1885)
Defence of Christian Science (1885)
No and Yes (1887)
Rudiments and Rules of Divine Science (1887)
Unity of Good and Unreality of Evil (1888)
Retrospection and Introspection (1891, memoirs)
Rudimental Divine Science (1894)
Manual of the Mother Church (1895)
Pulpit and Press (1895)
Miscellaneous Writings (1897)
Christian Science versus Pantheism: And Other Messages to the Mother Church (1898)
Christian Healing and the People's Idea of God (1908)
Poems (1910)
Prose Works Other Than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1925, posthumous)


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