The cross is the central emblem of the passage from sense to Soul….1
In the Library’s collection of jewelry is a cross pin, consisting of eleven old mine cut diamonds outlined by a thin band of gold. (An old mine cut diamond is the early form of today’s brilliant cut.) The pin was given to Mary Baker Eddy in June of 1891, by a student, Josephine C. Otterson of New York City. According to a June 18, 1891, letter Eddy wrote to James B. Harrington, Otterson presented the gift and remarked that “the cross is illumined.”2 Eddy gives us an indication of what the pin meant to her as she continues in the letter, “Prophetic words! This Book, my book of books [Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures]… illumines my life, its struggles, its victories.”
Six months later, on November 26, 1891, Mary Baker Eddy had her portrait taken by Concord, New Hampshire photographer S.A. Bowers. There were two series of poses taken; one series in a silk beaded dress and another series in her winter coat and attire. In looking at the images one notes that the diamond cross pin on her collar has moved to the ribbon tie of her bonnet. It is apparent that she favors this pin. It would become an element closely associated with her, and one that the majority of images depicting her would include.
When Otterson passed away unexpectedly in July 1896, Eddy felt the loss acutely and wrote a student, “Can words speak of our Mrs. Otterson? Oh no, my heart alone mentions her and sometimes I kiss the diamond cross she gave me and ‘Long to know a world more bright.’ But our loss is her gain.”3 (Eddy is quoting from her poem “Christ My Refuge.”)
In her will, Eddy left this pin to her student Laura Lathrop, who had been instrumental in establishing Second Church of Christ, Scientist, New York. In a letter to her son, John Lathrop, dated December 15, 1910, Laura observed that: “…the gift [Eddy] prized most and the only piece of jewelry I ever saw [Eddy] wear, was the cross Mrs. Otterson gave her—the one she wears in her pictures.”4 Laura passed the pin to her son John Lathrop, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher who had also served in Eddy’s household. The pin was given to The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1961.