A chronology of Mary Baker Eddy's life
Composite photograph (c. 1899) the Baker farm in Bow, NH, showing the house where Mary Baker Eddy was born. P06095. Image by Milton French.
Mary Morse Baker born in Bow, NH.
Born on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire, Mary Baker was the youngest of Mark and Abigail Baker’s six children. Her formal education was interrupted by periods of sickness. When not in school, she read and studied extensively at home, writing prose and poetry from an early age. Her parents sought help from physicians for her ailments, but the treatments brought only temporary relief.
Baker family moves to new farm in Sanbornton Bridge (now Tilton), NH.
Joins the Congregational Church in Sanbornton Bridge, NH.
Raised in a deeply religious Congregational home, Mary Baker questioned the Calvinist doctrine of predestination at an early age, and regularly turned to the Bible and prayer for hope and inspiration.
Albert Baker, Mary’s favorite brother, dies.
On December 10 Mary Baker marries George Washington Glover, 32, a building contractor. On December 25 George and Mary Glover sail for their new home in Charleston, South Carolina.
Glovers move to Wilmington, North Carolina, in February.
George Washington Glover dies on June 27 and Mary Glover returns to parents’ home. On September 12 Mary’s first and only child, George W. Glover, is born.
Starts a kindergarten school in Sanbornton — one of the first of its kind in New Hampshire.
Mother Abigail Ambrose Baker dies.
John Harriman Bartlett, to whom Mary Glover is betrothed, dies.
Father Mark Baker marries Mrs. Elizabeth Patterson Duncan.
Abigail Tilton, Mary’s sister, offers her a home, but son George is not welcome.
George W. Glover goes to live in North Groton, NH, with Cheney family.
Mary writes poem “The Mother at Parting with her Child.”
Mary Glover marries dentist and homeopath Daniel Patterson, moves to Franklin, NH.
Pattersons move to North Groton, NH, to be near son George.
Cheneys move to Minnesota with George W. Glover.
Hears from George in 1861, but does not see him again until 1879.
Mary is bedridden for most of the next 6 years.
George W. Glover runs off to join Union Army.
Daniel Patterson captured by Confederate soldiers while sightseeing on battlefield at Bull Run, escapes in autumn.
At sister Abigail’s initiative, Mary goes to Vail’s Hydropathic Institute, NH, for about three months.
Struggling with chronic illness compounded by personal loss, Mary Patterson was preoccupied with questions of health. Finding that conventional nineteenth-century medical treatments produced harmful side effects, Mary sought relief in various alternative treatments of the day, including the Graham diet and hydropathy (water cure). During Patterson’s long absences, she studied homeopathy in depth and became intrigued by its emphasis on diluting drugs to the point where they all but disappear from the remedy. She experimented with unmedicated pellets (now known as placebos) and concluded that a patient’s belief played a powerful role in the healing process. While investigating new treatments, she continued to seek comfort and insights from the Bible, still drawn by the healing record contained in its pages.
Mary visits healer Phineas Quimby.
In 1862, as the Civil War raged, Mary Patterson sought help from Phineas Quimby, a magnetic healer in Portland, Maine. Her health initially improved under his treatment, which included a combination of mental suggestion and what might now be called therapeutic touch, but she soon suffered a relapse. She later returned to Quimby for treatment and to learn more about his methods. In time, she concluded that Quimby’s technique depended largely on his vigorous personality, physical manipulation, and his training in hypnosis rather than on a divine principle.
Rejoins Daniel Patterson, who opens a dental practice in Lynn, MA.
Becomes active in the Lynn temperance movement.
Mark Baker dies.
January 16: Quimby dies in Belfast, ME.
February 1: Mary Patterson falls on ice on Lynn sidewalk; is seriously injured.
A turning point occurred in 1866 when a severe fall on an icy sidewalk left her in bed in critical condition. Friends and a homeopathic physician who was called to treat her saw no hope for her recovery.
February 4: Experiences healing—Christian Science discovered.
Mary Patterson asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus’ healing, found herself suddenly well. Mary could not explain to others what had happened, but she knew it was the result of what she had read in the Bible. Her conviction grew in the coming weeks and months as setbacks were met with even stronger proofs of spiritual healing. Eventually, she referred to this as the moment she discovered Christian Science.
March: Patterson deserts Mary.
Autumn: Begins notes on Genesis. Writes hundreds of pages of biblical exposition (1866-1869) in a manuscript titled “The Bible in Its Spiritual Meaning.”
Mary goes to Sanbornton Bridge to heal her neice, Ellen Pilsbury, who is dying. Ellen is healed by Mary’s prayers.
Called to heal Mrs. Mary Gale in Manchester, NH, who was dying of pneumonia. The doctors in attendance inform her that there is no hope for the patient. She cures the woman and one of the doctors urges her to write a book about her system of healing.
Begins teaching classes on Christian Science and maintains a healing practice.
Starts writing her book Science and Health, but the book is initially titled The Science of Life.
After 20 years of marriage, wins divorce from Daniel Patterson on grounds of desertion.
Buys her first house at 8 Broad Street in Lynn.
Leads Sunday services at Good Templars Hall in Lynn for one month.
Formally withdraws from Congregational Church in Tilton, NH.
Publishes first edition of Science and Health.
Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, details her discovery of Christian Science and her commentary on the Scriptures. It is the focal point for the expression of Eddy’s ideas.
First published in 1875, Science and Health is a bestseller, having sold over 10 million copies. It’s also cited by the Women’s National Book Association as “one of the 75 books by women whose words have changed the world.”
Heals Asa Gilbert Eddy of a heart condition. He studies with her and becomes a Christian Science practitioner within three weeks.
Marries Asa Gilbert Eddy.
Preaches weekly sermons at various locations in Boston.
In April Mary Baker Eddy and her students form a church. In August, Eddy ordained pastor by her church.
Disappointed that existing Christian churches would not embrace her discovery, Eddy started her own church. In 1879 she secured a charter for the Church of Christ, Scientist, established “to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
Publishes her sermon Christian Healing.
Mary Baker Eddy explains how the healings performed by Jesus and his early followers are possible today.
Charter obtained for Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach courses on spiritual healing.
The Eddys move from Lynn to Boston.
Asa Gilbert Eddy dies.
Brings suit against Edward J. Arens for infringement of copyright and wins.
First issue of the Journal of Christian Science (later The Christian Science Journal).
A monthly publication offering instructional articles, reports of Christian healing, and a worldwide directory of Christian Science practitioners, teachers, nurses, churches, Reading Rooms, and more.
Publishes The People’s God: Its Effect on Health and Christianity (original title).
This publication looks at how individuals’ lives are influenced by their views of God, and the life-transforming effect of spiritual ideas.
Responds to criticism at Tremont Temple, Boston.
Publishes Historical Sketch of Metaphysical Healing (later incorporated into Retrospection and Introspection).
Publishes Defence of Christian Science (later No and Yes).
A thought-provoking look at Christian Science in relation to other Christian faith traditions.
Publishes Rudiments and Rules of Divine Science.
This work, later renamed Rudimental Divine Science, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Christian Science and how it heals.
Mary Baker Eddy moves to 385 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.
Mary Baker Eddy resided at 385 Commonwealth Avenue, in Back Bay Boston, from 1887 to 1889. In this home, Eddy oversaw activities, taught at her college, and preached at her church.
Five years after Eddy’s husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, died unexpectedly in 1882, she purchased this Commonwealth Avenue home for $40,000. The five-story brownstone townhouse and its steep price (nearly $740,000 in today’s dollars) are clear indicators of how Eddy, at age 66, had achieved financial stability.
By the end of 1889, Eddy dissolved her college and disorganized her church and moved to New Hampshire to complete a major new revision of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She later deeded the Commonwealth Avenue home to her church to be used as the residence of the First Reader of the Mother Church.
First Christian Science Reading Room opens in Boston.
Publishes Unity of Good and Unreality of Evil (later Unity of Good).
In this publication, Mary Baker Eddy writes about how a better understanding of God as completely good can bring healing to one’s life. Fifteen short, individual chapters address subjects such as “The Ego,” “Soul,” and “The Deep Things of God.”
Adopts Ebenezer J. Foster as her son.
Mary Baker Eddy settles in Concord, NH.
Also, closes Massachusetts Metaphysical College and disorganizes church.
Publishes Christian Science Quarterly— Bible Lessons.
This quarterly publication of weekly Bible Lessons is arranged for individual study and use in Sunday church services.
Publishes landmark 50th edition of Science and Health.
A reordering of chapters, new chapter titles, and the addition of marginal headings makes this the first edition to contain many elements familiar to readers today.
Publishes Retrospection and Introspection.
Throughout her life and in her writings, Mary Baker Eddy discouraged personal adulation. She believed that people would find her true character and purpose in her own writings, rather than in a biographical record. Responding to the curiosity of the public and the press about her life, Eddy eventually wrote a short volume titled Retrospection and Introspection, first published in 1891.
Throughout this spiritual autobiography, Eddy shares many insights. Her focus in Retrospection and Introspection is keenly expressed when she writes, “Mere historic incidents and personal events are frivolous and of no moment, unless they illustrate the ethics of Truth.” Eddy also used Retrospection and Introspection to reflect on her youth, her experiences as a healer and author, and the publication of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Church of Christ (Scientist) reorganizes as The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Moves to “Pleasant View” home in Concord, NH.
Publishes Christ and Christmas.
This unique poem is accompanied by drawings by artist James Gilman.
Ordains Bible and Science and Health as pastor of The Mother Church.
Construction of The Mother Church completed
The Original Mother Church, built in 1894, is at the heart of the Christian Science Plaza and remains today as it was when first built. The building is Romanesque in style, made of New Hampshire granite, and contains stained glass windows depicting Bible events. However, it was only designed for a capacity of 1,000 people, which it soon reached.
Ordains Bible and Science and Health as pastor in branch churches.
The Church’s pastor is unique, for it consists of two books, the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Sunday services are centered around weekly Bible Lessons consisting of citations from both books. Wednesday testimony meetings include readings that speak to a current issue or need in the community or world. Following the readings, the congregation is invited to share experiences of spiritual healing or insight gained from prayer and the study of Christian Science.
Publishes Pulpit and Press and Manual of The Mother Church.
As construction of the Original Edifice of The Mother Church in Boston neared completion in 1894, the world watched. The completion of this new church caught the attention of journalists, public officials, and ordinary citizens throughout America and beyond. Pulpit and Press documents the completion and dedication of the Church, as well as the broad and diverse media coverage of this event. It contains excerpts from the dedication service (including Eddy’s dedicatory sermon), over 60 pages of reprints from newspaper articles, and more.
The Manual of The Mother Church continues to guide all the activities of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, such as classes on Christian Science healing, public lectures, and church services. It outlines the unique system of government Mary Baker Eddy established for her Church and provides direction on the individual practice of Christian healing.
Publishes Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896.
Mary Baker Eddy believed that this collection of writings was so important, that in 1897 she requested students of her works spend the next year thoroughly reading it. The diverse articles, addresses, letters, and poems—on topics such as mental healing, forgiveness, angels, and marriage—are based on the author’s own experiences in putting her system of healing into practice. Considered by Eddy to be a book that would help readers better understand Science and Health, it contains dozens of letters from people healed just by reading that work.
Breaks all ties with Ebenezer Foster Eddy.
Holds last class in Concord, NH, and establishes Board of Education.
Establishes The Christian Science Publishing Society, Board of Lectureship, and Committee on Publication.
Publishes Christian Science versus Pantheism.
Mary Baker Eddy’s 1898 message to the Church of Christ, Scientist, discusses how pantheistic beliefs have no relation to the concept of one universal God caring for man.
First issue of Christian Science Weekly (later Christian Science Sentinel) is published.
A weekly magazine featuring articles, editorials, and firsthand accounts of healing.
1900-1910 (Up to Mary Baker Eddy's Passing)
Publishes Message to The Mother Church for 1900.
Includes a discussion of the “right thinker and worker,” obedience to God, love for mankind, and more.
Publishes Message to The Mother Church for 1901.
Mary Baker Eddy speaks to the Church on such topics as “Christ is One and Divine,” “My Childhood’s Church Home,” and “Medicine.”
Writes, but decides not to publish, the autobiographical Footprints Fadeless.
This original work is written principally in response to Frederick W. Peabody, who attacks Eddy in a lecture given in Tremont Temple in Boston. Peabody had represented a former student of Mary Baker Eddy, who unsuccessfully sued her for libel. He also publishes the lecture as a pamphlet entitled A Complete Expose of Eddyism or Christian Science, and The Plain Truth in Plain Terms Regarding Mary Baker G. Eddy, Founder of Christian Science.
Adds “Fruitage” chapter to Science and Health.
In addition to the new chapter featuring letters received from those healed by reading Science and Health, this 226th edition also included the introduction of line numbering and presentation of the chapters in the order they are featured today.
Publishes Message to The Mother Church for 1902.
An in-depth look at the First Commandment and Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.”
Sentinel carries first translation of lecture (into German).
First Herald of Christian Science: Der Christian Science Herold is published.
Published monthly and/or quarterly in 13 languages, the Herald presents articles and testimonies of healing, and a directory of Christian Science churches, practitioners, and other listings for each country. Today, the Herald is also produced as a radio program in five languages, with interviews and reports of healings.
Publishes a concordance to Science and Health.
Establishes Christian Science organizations for colleges and universities.
The Mother Church Extension completed.
The large domed Extension was completed in 1906, and provides seating for approximately 3,000. The building combines Renaissance and Byzantine architectural concepts. The organ, built by the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston, is one of the largest in the world; it covers eight divisions and has a total of 13,290 pipes.
“Next friends” suit brought against church officials.
Suit on “behalf” of Mary Baker Eddy, alleging misuse of her property and abuse of her person, is filed against church officials and others by her “next friends,” including George W. Glover II (her son), George W. Baker (her nephew), and Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy (adopted son). Suit is unsuccessful.
Moves to Chestnut Hill, MA. Establishes The Christian Science Monitor.
Establishes the office of Christian Science nurse.
Authorizes work on first translation of Science and Health into German (published 1912).
Mary Baker Eddy dies, aged 89. Her last written words are “God is my life.”
Mary Baker Eddy is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. The cemetery, consecrated in 1831, was the first rural burial ground in America. Less than three miles from downtown Boston, Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a peaceful arboretum, bird sanctuary, and final resting place for many famous Americans, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Winslow Homer, and Fannie Farmer.
“Hope,” “Woman’s Rights,” and “Resolutions for the Day” are just some of the titles in this book of verse. It contains 48 of her original poems written from childhood through adult life. Poems includes a number of verses that were printed in various publications of her time, as well as seven that have been set to music as hymns (“Satisfied,” “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” “Feed My Sheep,” “Love,” “Christ My Refuge,” “Christmas Morn,” and “Communion Hymn”).
1911-1920 (Events of Interest following Mary Baker Eddy's Passing)
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany published.
Part I of this two-part book is a collection of messages, addresses, letters, and newspaper articles about the building and dedication of The Mother Church Extension in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1906. Part II contains articles and letters written by Mary Baker Eddy to the public and to Churches of Christ, Scientist. Topics include peace and war, personality, health, Christmas, and more.
Concordance to other writings of Mary Baker Eddy published.
Science and Health French translation published.