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Mary Baker Eddy

1821-1910. Founder of Christian Science.* Born into a Congregational family on a farm near Concord, New Hampshire, she was from infancy subject to attacks of convulsive hysteria; even as a grown child she had to be rocked to sleep in a cradle made by her father. Her first husband married her “cradle and all.” She was highly sensitive, intensely religious, seeing God everywhere. Reared on the Westminster Confession, she was accepted on confession of faith at the age of twelve by her father's church, despite her rejection of the Westminster's predestinarianism. At twenty-two she married a bricklayer who died a year later. Ten years afterward she married a roving dentist, who left her because of her “fits.” In 1862 Mary visited “Doctor” Phineas Quimby, an ignorant, nonreligious blacksmith who practiced hypnotism and set her free from years of suffering. Impressed by his healings through the use of mind, Mary combined Quimbyism with her understanding of Christianity and gave birth to her Divine Science of healing, which she claimed came by direct revelation from God. Her book Science and Health, with a Key to the Scripture, she claimed was dictated by God, though she hired a clergyman to edit out the bad grammar. She was so filled with the Spirit, she explained, that her “grammar was eclipsed.”

In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy, a man of poor health whom she cured. Eddy also left her a widow in due course, but she kept his name. She summoned a doctor before her husband died, later explaining that his death was from “arsenic mentally administered.” After his death this remarkable widow of sixty-one went on to fame, wealth, and the founding of her own church. She died at eighty-nine, after years of loneliness and mortal terror that her enemies were projecting some mental arsenic into her mind.

See bibliography under Christian Science.