Mapparium, Mother Church are Hidden Gems in the Back Bay

Inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library on Massachusetts Avenue sits a vivid, 608-panel glass globe. Called the Mapparium, the 83-year-old globe is 30 feet in diameter and three stories high, according to tour guide Bert Hogan.

The Mapparium opened in 1935, with the expectation that the panels would be updated to keep up with current maps, Hogan said. But that was not the case, as World War II made that impractical to do. None of the panels have ever changed, so the globe reflects the world as it was in 1935.

Persia became Iran two months before the Mapparium was supposed to open, and that was the last panel to be installed, said Hogan. It labels the country as “Iran,” but still has “Persia” in parenthesis.

The map is to scale, and one inch equals 22 miles. Sound reflects off of the glass surface, and there are special features that visitors can try. Standing in the middle of the bridge that goes through the middle of the Mapparium, visitors can hear their voice in surround sound. If two people stand on opposite ends of the bridge, visitors can whisper to each other and be heard clearly. This is called the “whisper gallery,” Hogan said.

Guests can also pay a visit to the original Mother Church, which opened in 1894, and the Mother Church Extension, which opened in 1906. The extension is home to Sunday church services and testimony meetings.The church has a basic Byzantine shape, and requires no columns because of the way the ceiling is shaped.

The extension contains no Christian symbols, but rather focuses on the emphasis on the ideas and spiritual message of Christian Science, which was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 1800s.

The walls of the extension are inscribed with quotes from the Bible and from Mary Baker Eddy’s Book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, explained tour guide Teddy Crecelius. In Christian Science, her writings explain the Bible, not replace it, he said.

The extension is also the home of one of the ten largest pipe organs in the world, Crecelius said, and was finished in 1952.

The original church is significantly smaller than the extension, and features more Romanesque style architecture. Crecelius said that Christian Science had been around for 15 years when this church was built.

The stained glass pictures on the window place an emphasis on healing. Women are depicted in all of the pictures as well, which is not typical in other churches, Crecelius said.

The Christian Science Plaza, where the Mary Eddy Baker Library and the Mother Church are located, is undergoing construction to restore and repair various aspects. There will be more green space and some changes to the reflecting pool.

Ingrid Peschke of the Christian Science Committee on Publication in Massachusetts said that the old pool leaked into the parking garage below, but the new pool is waterproofed so the problem will not continue. The renovated pool will also have a granite bottom instead of its current concrete one.

Peschke said that the goal of these renovations is to make the space even more inviting. The renovations will allow the plaza to be used by a variety of different people. She said that the plaza is more than just the headquarters of her faith, “it’s an important part of the city.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.