Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science religion, claimed in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures*, Ch. 8, p. 245:1-15:

The error of thinking that we are growing old, and the benefits of destroying that illusion, are illustrated in a sketch from the history of an English woman, published in the London medical magazine called The Lancet.

Disappointed in love in her early years, she became insane and lost all account of time. Believing that she was still living in the same hour which parted her from her lover, taking no note of years, she stood daily before the window watching for her lover’s coming. In this mental state she remained young. Having no consciousness of time, she literally grew no older. Some American travellers saw her when she was seventy-four, and supposed her to be a young woman. She had no care-lined face, no wrinkles nor gray hair, but youth sat gently on cheek and brow. Asked to guess her age, those unacquainted with her history conjectured that she must be under twenty.

Did The Lancet publish such an account?

Unfortunately, Eddy does not seem to have provided a more specific bibliographic citation to The Lancet that I can verify by looking up the applicable issue at my local university.

This question has nothing to do with Christian Science as a religion, whether its teachings are true, or its leaders honest. It is also not about whether there actually was a woman who did not age, only whether an account of such was actually published in the medical literature as claimed by Eddy (who, as the founder of a major religion, is notable).

  • 1
    There is a somewhat similar and clinically studied but unclear case here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karolina_Olsson (slept between the age of 14 and 46 and had the appearance of a 25-year old on waking up)
    – DHa
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


It seems that we don't know, but probably not.

What we have here is a notable person claiming without a reference that a peer reviewed journal supposedly reported on what many might consider a miracle. This in itself doesn't prove anything, but you are right to be skeptical.

According to the Mary Baker Eddy Library, which is an organization affiliated with Christian Science, of whom Eddy was the founder (emphasize mine):

Over the years, various people both here and in Britain have taken up the task to locate The Lancet published during the early part of the nineteenth century that includes mention of a woman who did not age. Despite searches by numerous people, no mention has ever been found. It is possible that Eddy read the account in another magazine entirely, which mistakenly named The Lancet as the source. Many periodicals of the time reprinted articles freely from other publications, and we have found several cases of incorrect attribution. We know that she read the account some time before 1875 because it has appeared in Science and Health from the first edition.

https://www.marybakereddylibrary.org - The Account of the Woman Who Didn’t Age from The Lancet mentioned in Science and Health

So an organization that bears her name doesn't know which Lancet article she is referring to. The word usage gives the impression (IMHO) that the organization itself doesn't believe the Lancet article in question exists and offers explanations as to why Eddy might have made a wrong attribution.

If you're feeling lucky, adventurous AND you have a whole lot of spare time, here is an archive of The Lancet journals.

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