Mary Baker Eddy was an American religious leader and the founder of the Christian Science movement. She was born in Bow, New Hampshire (USA), on July 16, 1821. As a child she was not very healthy; as a result she missed a great deal of school. Her education came through home schooling and study of the Bible and scriptures.
She continued to suffer from poor health when she became an adult and tried many alternative therapies of the times. These included mesmerism (hypnosis), hydrotherapy (water cures), and mental healing. Once, after falling on ice and suffering a severe injury, she asked for her Bible and read a Gospel account of one of Jesus’s healings. After reading the New Testament, she was completely cured and felt she had finally found the answer to her medical problems: the scriptures.
Eddy believed that all sickness was mental rather than physical. She began the practice of healing others by reading the Bible and teaching others to be healers as well. In 1875 she published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Eddy later published sixteen other books. In 1879 she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, an organization she oversaw closely until her death.
Her followers, the Christian Scientists, believe that disease, as well as sin and death, do not originate with God and consequently are not real. They see God as the only healer. Instead of medicinal remedies, Christian Scientists pray for the sick person. The church, however, does not stop its members from seeing a doctor; it leaves the choice to the individual. The church allows conventional therapy for “mechanical” problems such as broken bones and dental cavities.
Today there are more than 2,700 Christian Science churches worldwide.