The archangel’s name in Hebrew means “Divine Healer.”
Among the three archangels named in the Bible, St. Raphael is probably the least known. This is likely due to the fact that St. Raphael is only found in the Old Testament (and there only in a book not considered canonical by Jews or Protestant Christians), while Gabriel and Michael feature prominently in the New Testament.
Traditionally, Raphael had a separate feast celebrated on October 24, though recently his feast was combined with those of the other two archangels on September 29.
St. Raphael is a powerful intercessor whom we should not forget, especially during times when we are most in need of healing.
Raphael is found in the Book of Tobit, where he reveals himself as a healer of mind, body and spirit. The first part of the biblical story narrates the life of Tobit, a righteous Jewish man who took upon himself the burial of the dead even when it was forbidden by his Assyrian captors. Tobit became blind after bird droppings fell into his eyes. The blindness lasted for several years and sent Tobit into a deep anguish, creating in him a desire to die.
At the same time there was a woman named Sarah who was tormented by a demon. She married seven times, but each time her bridegroom was killed by the demon on their wedding night, before the marriage could be consummated. She too was deeply depressed and wished for death.
St. Raphael was sent to both. He brought about their healing by accompanying Tobit’s son, Tobias, on a journey to find a special kind of fish liver with healing properties. Raphael was disguised as Tobias’ travel guide, and in this tradition he is often invoked by pilgrims.
On the way back home, Raphael and Tobias stopped at the home of Tobit’s kinsmen — the parents of Sarah. Tobias and Sarah fell in love, and on their wedding night Tobias’ pledge of chaste love, stirred by Raphael’s angelic power, defeated the demon.
Returning home with his bride, Tobias laid the fish liver on Tobit’s eyes and his blindness was healed. At the marriage feast of Tobias and Sarah, the family turned to thank Raphael, who only then revealed himself as an archangel.
The word Raphael in Hebrew can be rendered as, “God heals,” “Divine Healer,” or “Remedy of God.” His angelic mission on earth is to heal, which is very important for those suffering in any way.
Below is a prayer to St. Raphael for any intention you may have, especially for anyone you know who may be hurting right now. In light of recent events, all of us should pray for the healing of our country, and all those suffering in mind, body or spirit.
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. Amen.