By Valerie Minard
Women’s History month commemorates the achievements of remarkable women who have made a difference in American history. Most of us may be familiar with such notables as Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Clara Barton. But, if they were here today, they may have nominated one of their contemporaries, Mary Baker Eddy, for recognition as well. Eddy is a fellow inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. A household name during their time, one of the leading newspapers described Eddy as “the most famous, interesting and powerful woman in America, if not the world, today.”
Growing up on a small New Hampshire farm in the 1820’s, no one dreamed that Eddy would one day…
- become a well respected author
- found a church that would spread across the globe during her lifetime
- found her own college and teach 1000’s of students
- publish and edit her own weekly and monthly magazines
- at 87 years old found the international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, which has since won 7 Pulitzer prizes.
She did all this during a time when women had little formal educational or employment opportunities; had no right to vote; rarely spoke in public; and were not received as credible religious leaders.
Sickly during most of the first half of her life, Eddy’s future seemed bleak. She sought relief from various health cures of her day, including allopathy, nutritional diets, and homeopathy. For many years she struggled, facing widowhood, divorce, separation from her only child, poverty, and lack of a stable home.
Ironically, her life turned around after a near-fatal accident. While expected to die, her years of diligent searching of the Bible for Truth culminated in a new, profound spiritual understanding. As she read an account of one of Jesus’ healings, she was healed. She got up from her bed and walked to the next room recovered, much to the astonishment of her doctor and friends who who were already mourning her imminent death.
Although she had prayed her whole life, this was different. She knew it was God’s power that had healed her, but she wanted to understand better how the healing had taken place and if there was a timeless spiritual law behind Jesus’ healing works. Eddy writes, “For three years after my discovery, I sought the solution of this problem of Mind [God] -healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule.” (1)
Her copious notes evolved into her seminal book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which explains what she understood to be the Science or divine Principle behind spiritual healing as practiced by Christ Jesus. The National Women’s Book Association has designated it “one of 75 books written by American women whose words have changed the world.” Since its first publication, over 9 million copies have been sold. It is still being studied along with the Bible by people all over the world today, who continue to find healing through its teachings.
Nurse and founder of the Red Cross, Clara Barton, (who was not a Christian Scientist), wrote this about Eddy’s book: “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman — so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great.”
(1) Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p 109:11
Valerie Minard writes regularly on the connection between consciousness, spirituality, and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in New Jersey. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @valerieminard.