Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
St. Raphael, the Archangel
St. Raphael is one of the seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord, and one of the only three mentioned by name in the Bible. He appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. Raphael’s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that claims he “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch.
Disguised as a human in the Book of Tobit, Raphael refers to himself as “Azarias the son of the great Ananias” and travels alongside Tobit’s son, Tobiah. Once Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that his true healing powers are revealed and he makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” Tobit 12:15.
The demon Asmodeus killed every man Sarah married on the night of the wedding, before the marriage could be consummated. Raphael guided Tobiah and taught him how to safely enter the marriage with Sarah.
Raphael is credited with driving the evil spirit from Sarah and restoring Tobit’s vision, allowing him to see the light of Heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession.
Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John speaks of the pool at Bethesda, where many ill people rested, awaiting the moving of the water. “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under” John 5:1-4. Because of the healing powers often linked to Raphael, the angel spoken of is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.
St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish. His feast day is celebrated on September 29, along with St. Michael and St. Gabriel.
For other uses, see Raphael (disambiguation).
Raphael (/ˈræfiəl/; Hebrew: רְפָאֵל, translit. Rāfāʾēl, lit. ‘It is God who heals’, ‘God Heals’, ‘God, Please Heal’; Ancient Greek: Ραφαήλ, Coptic: ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ, Arabic: رفائيل or إسرافيل Ethiopic (Ge’ez):ሩፋኤል ) is an archangel responsible for healing in the traditions of most Abrahamic religions. Not all branches of these religions consider the identification of Raphael to be canonical.
In Christianity, Raphael is generally associated with an unnamed angel mentioned in the Gospel of John, who stirs the water at the healing pool of Bethesda. Raphael is recognized as an angel in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as he is briefly mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants. Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and some Anglicans.
In Islam, Raphael is the fourth major angel; and in the Muslim tradition, he is known as Isrāfīl. Though unnamed in the Quran, hadith identifies Israfil with the angel of Quran 6:73. Within Islamic eschatology, Israfil is traditionally attributed to a trumpet, which is poised at his lips, and when God so commands he shall be ready to announce the Day of Resurrection.
The angels mentioned in the Torah, the older books of the Hebrew Bible, are without names. Shimon ben Lakish of Tiberias (AD 230–270), asserted that all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and modern commentators would tend to agree.
According to the Babylonian Talmud, Raphael is identified as one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in the oak grove of Mamre, in the region of Hebron. (Gen. xviii; Bava Metzia 86b). Michael, as the greatest, walked in the middle, with Gabriel to his right and Raphael to his left (Yoma 37a). All three angels were commanded to carry out a specific mission. Gabriel’s mission was to destroy Sodom; Michael’s mission was to inform Sarah that she would give birth to Isaac in a year’s time; Raphael’s mission was to heal Abraham (from his recent circumcision) and save Lot. Rashi writes, “Although Raphael’s mission included two tasks, they were considered a single mission since they were both acts that saved people.”
Raphael is named in several Jewish apocryphal books. The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel. Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides made a Jewish angelic hierarchy, which includes the archangel Raphael.
Medieval French rabbi, author and Hebrew Bible commentator Rashi views Raphael as being one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in the oak grove of Mamre in the Book of Genesis. Raphael is also mentioned in the Book of Enoch alongside archangels Michael, Gabriel and Uriel.
In the Book of Enoch
Raphael bound Azazel under a desert called Dudael according to Enoch 10:4–6:
And again the Lord said to Raphael: “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire.”
“Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men.” (1 Enoch 20:7)
When Enoch asked who the four figures were that he had seen: “And he said to me: ‘This first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over all the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel.’ And these are the four angels of the Lord of Spirits and the four voices I heard in those days.” (Enoch 40:9)
Of archangels in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only Michael, mentioned as archangel (Daniel 12:1), and Gabriel are mentioned by name in canonical books.
In Catholicism and in the Eastern Orthodoxy
The Book of Tobit is considered deuterocanonical by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglicans.[who?] In it, Raphael first appears disguised as the human travelling companion of Tobit’s son, Tobiah (Greek: Τωβίας/Tobias), calling himself “Azarias the son of the great Ananias”. During the course of the journey, the archangel’s protective influence is shown in many ways including the binding of a demon in the desert of upper Egypt. After returning and healing the blind Tobit, Azarias makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” Tobit 12:15. He is venerated as Saint Raphael the Archangel.
Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael, there is his declaration to Tobit (Tobit, 12) that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, from the demon Asmodeus, who kills every man she marries on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated.
In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name (Luke 1:9–26; Jude 1:9). Later manuscripts of John 5:1–4 refer to the pool of Bethesda, where the multitude of the infirm lay awaiting the moving of the water, for “an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under”. Because of the healing role assigned to Raphael, this particular angel is generally associated with the archangel.
The identification of Raphael is not accepted as canonical by most denominations of Protestantism, as the name only appears in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit. Nevertheless, the name “Raphael” is widely recognized in church tradition as a result of Protestantism’s origins in Catholic Christianity. Raphael (and other traditional angels) are not venerated in Protestantism.
Due to his actions in the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of John, Saint Raphael is accounted patron of travelers, the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, matchmakers, Christian marriage, and Catholic studies. As a particular enemy of the devil, he was revered in Catholic Europe as a special protector of sailors: on a corner of Venice’s famous Doge’s Palace, there is a relief depicting Raphael holding a scroll on which is written: “Efficia fretum quietum” (Keep the Gulf quiet). On July 8, 1497, when Vasco Da Gama set forth from Lisbon with his four ship fleet to sail to India, the flagship was named—at the King of Portugal’s insistence—the St. Raphael. When the flotilla reached the Cape of Good Hope on October 22, the sailors disembarked and erected a column in the archangel’s honor. The little statue of St. Raphael that accompanied Da Gama on the voyage is now in the Naval Museum in Lisbon.
Raphael is said to guard pilgrims on their journeys, and is often depicted holding a staff. He is also often depicted holding or standing on a fish, which alludes to his healing of Tobit with the fish’s gall. Early mosaics often show him and the other archangels in the clothing of a Byzantine courtier.
The feast day of Raphael was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, for celebration on October 24. With the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast was transferred to September 29 for celebration together with archangels Saints Michael and Gabriel. Due to Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, the Catholic Church permits, within certain limits for public use, the General Roman Calendar of 1960, which has October 24 as Raphael’s feast day.
The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates his feast on Kouji Nabot 3 and Koiak 13.
The Archangel Raphael is said to have appeared in Cordova, Spain, during the 16th century; in response to the city’s appeal, Pope Innocent X allowed the local celebration of a feast in the Archangel’s honor on May 7, the date of the principal apparition. Saint John of God, founder of the Hospital order that bears his name, is also said to have received visitations from Saint Raphael, who encouraged and instructed him. In tribute to this, many of the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God’s facilities are called “Raphael Centers” to this day. The 18th century Neapolitan nun, Saint Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds is also said to have seen apparitions of Raphael.
The Archangel Israfil, made in Egypt or Syria, late 14th–early 15th century
Raphael (Arabic: إسرافيل, romanized: Isrāfīl, alternate spellings: Israfel, Esrafil) is a venerated archangel according to Islamic tradition. In Islamic eschatology, Israfil will blow the trumpet from a holy rock in Jerusalem to announce the Day of Resurrection (Yawm al-Qiyāmah). The trumpet is constantly poised at his lips, ready to be blown when God so orders.
In religious tradition
The name “Israfil” (or “Israfel”, “Esrafil”) is not specifically written in the Quran, although there is mention of an unnamed trumpet-angel assumed to identify this figure:
“And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except him whom Allah will; then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting.” — Qur’an (39.68).
Certain Islamic sources indicate that, created at the beginning of time, Israfil possesses four wings, and is so tall as to be able to reach from the earth to the pillars of heaven. A beautiful angel who is a master of music, Israfil sings praises to God in a thousand different languages, the breath of which is used to inject life into hosts of angels who add to the songs themselves. Further he is probably the highest angel, since he also mediates between God and the other archangels, reading on the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfooz) to transmit the commands of God. Although disputed, some reports assert, he visited Muhammad prior to the archangel Gabriel.
According to Sufi traditions reported by Imam al-Suyuti, the Ghawth or Qutb (‘perfect human being’), is someone who has a heart that resembles that of the archangel Israfil, signifying the loftiness of this angel. The next in rank are the saints who are known as the Umdah or Awtad, amongst whom the highest ones have their hearts resembling that of archangel Mikhail (archangel Michael), and the rest of the lower ranking saints having the heart of Jibrail (archangel Gabriel), and that of the previous prophets before the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The earth is believed to always have one of the Qutb.
The following places have been named in honor of Raphael:
Saint Raphaël, France; Saint Raphaël, Quebec, Canada; and San Rafaels in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, and the Philippines; also San Rafael de El Moján and San Rafael de Orituco in Venezuela.
In the United States, San Rafaels inherited from Spain survive in California (where besides the city there are the San Rafael Mountains)
- New Mexico, and Utah, where the San Rafael River flows seasonally in the San Rafael Desert.
- St. Raphael’s Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin
- St. Raphael’s Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Dubuque
- Mission San Rafael Arcángel in San Rafael, California.
- St. Raphael’s Church, Huccaby, Hexworthy, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England
- San Rafael, Vecindario, Santa Lucia de Tirajana Gran Canaria