Archangel Raphael, St. Raphael the Archangel

St. Raphael the Archangel

Raphael (רפאל, Hebrew for "God has healed," "God Heals" ), is one of the three angels mentioned by name in Scripture, and one of the seven that stand before God's throne. Lead character in the deuterocanonical book of Tobit in which he travelled with (and guarded) Tobias, and cured a man's blindness; hence his connection with travellers, young people, blindness, healing and healers. Traditionally considered the force behind the healing power of the sheep pool mentioned in John 5:1-4.

Archangel Raphael

The name of this archangel does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the Septuagint only in the Book of Tobias. Here he first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of the younger Tobias, calling himself "Azarias the son of the great Ananias". The story of the adventurous journey during which the protective influence of the angel is shown in many ways including the binding "in the desert of upper Egypt" of the demon who had previously slain seven husbands of Sara, daughter of Raguel. After the return and the healing of the blindness of the elder Tobias, Azarias makes himself known as "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" (Tobit 12:15. Cf. Revelation 8:2). Of these seven "archangels" which appear in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned in the canonical Scriptures. The others, according to the Book of Enoch (cf. xxi) are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel, while from other apocryphal sources we get the variant names Izidkiel, Hanael, and Kepharel instead of the last three in the other list.

Regarding the functions attributed to Raphael we have little more than his declaration to Tobias (Tobit 12) that when the latter was occupied in his works of mercy and charity, he (Raphael) offered his prayer to the Lord, that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sara, his son's wife, from the devil. The Jewish category of the archangels is recognized in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:15; Jude 9), but only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name. Many commentators, however, identify Raphael with the "angel of the Lord" mentioned in John 5. This conjecture is base both on the significance of the name and on the healing role attributed to Raphael in the Book of Tobias. The Church assigns the feast of St. Raphael to 24 October. The hymns of the Office recall the healing power of the archangel and his victory over the demon. The lessons of the first Nocturn and the Antiphons of the entire Office are taken from the Book of Tobias, and the lessons of the second and third Nocturns from the works of St. Augustine, viz. for the second Nocturn a sermon on Tobias (sermon I on the fifteenth Sunday), and for the third, a homily on the opening verse of John 5. The Epistle of the Mass is taken from the twelfth chapter of Tobias, and the Gospel from John 5:1-4, referring to the pool called Probatica, 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". Thus the conjecture of the commentators referred to above is confirmed by the official Liturgy of the Church.

Name Meaning

  • God has healed

  • Healer from God

  • God's remedy

  • It is God who heals

  • God Heals

  • God, Please Heal

The Book of Tobit

The Holy Scriptures make mention of the Holy Archangel Raphael in only one place, The Book of Tobit.

The Book of Tobit relates the story of two Israelite families that had been constrained during the reign of Enemessar to settle in Assyria, away from their homeland of Israel.

One of these families belonged to a righteous man, a descendant of Nephthali named Tobit who together with his wife, Anna, and son, Tobias, had been confined to the ancient Assyrian metropolis of Ninevah, whereas the other one belonged to a man named Raguel who had settled in Media, in the city of Ecbatana.

Having been reported to the Assyrian usurpers that he had taken and buried without any official consent the bodies of his Israelite compatriots whom the foreign authorities had sentenced to undergo the capital punishment, Tobit had fled from Ninevah and returned only after the assassination of Sennacherib, the current emperor.

Under the reign of Sarchedonus, the son and successor of Sennacherib, Tobit had been absolved of his ban from Ninevah and all his goods had been restored to him and his wife and son freed, owing this to the influence exerted by his brother, Achiacharus, whom the new emperor had appointed second-in-command and entrusted with supervising over the affairs and well organization of the empire.

Tobit, however, outraged his Ninevite neighbours once again by burying without any official permission, as he did before, the body of an Israelite who one night had been murdered in the streets.

That same night, after he had interred the body of his Israelite compatriot, Tobit had slept outdoors in the courtyard of his abode near a wall in which sparrows had made their nests.

As he had been sleeping, the bird dung of the sparrows had fallen on his eyes causing him thus to lose his eye sight.

Bereft of eye sight and weakened by old age, Tobit was now demoralized and felt that he would perish soon.

The situation of the other family, that of Raguel, was no less disheartening since Sara, his daughter, was in serious torment as she was being haunted by a jealous demon called Asmodeus that had killed all of her seven previous husbands while she had been with them the night following their wedding; no sooner had she become a wife than the demon, at the wedding night, killed her new spouse. God allowed the demon to slay these men because they entered marriage with unholy motives. In fact, the permission given by God to the demon in this history seems to have as a motive to chasten man's sinful sexual lust and sanctify marriage.

Because of their financial troubles, old Tobit decided to send his son, Tobias, to the Median city of Rages so that he might retrieve ten silver talents that had been entrusted to the keeping of a man named Gabael, the son of Gabrias.

Before letting his son commence his journey, Tobit encouraged him to never lose confidence in God's mercy and emphasized the usefulness of almsgiving. Tobit assured his son that helping the poor and providing them with comfort in their time of need is useful to the salvation of both the benefactors and the departed in whose name the alms are being given. Tobit also insisted that his son should embrace wisdom and moderation in word as well as in deed and avoid indulging pleasures that might cause him to fall victim to excesses such as lust and drunkenness. What's more, he was exhorted not to marry any pagan woman lest he should dishonour his Israelite ancestry.

Having concluded his lecture, Tobit recommended that his son should employ a trustworthy person as companion for the journey.

Tobias followed his father's recommendation and set off to find an honorable man and ultimately he found the Holy Archangel Raphael, whom God had sent to aid Tobit and his household, but because of the human appearance that was concealing the Archangel's divine nature, Tobias could not see that the person whom he had chosen for a companion was in fact an angelic being.

After he had been presented to Tobit, Raphael was asked for his name and if he was an Israelite, to which the Archangel replied that his name was Azarias and that he was the son of Ananias the great and consequently belonged to the people of Israel.

Old Tobit rejoiced upon hearing this answer and took the opportunity to reminisce about the time when he had been to Jerusalem and remained impressed by Ananias' willingness not to adopt any pagan conviction. Tobit praised Ananias' orthodoxy that came in contrast to the numerous erroneous convictions and rituals that the other Israelites had adopted from the foreign invaders, after which he congratulated Raphael for his alleged ancestry and concluded that Tobias had made the right choice in employing Raphael as companion.

While on their journey to Media, Tobit and Raphael stopped to spend the night near the river Tigris. When Tobit went to bathe in the river's waters, a large fish leaped out from the waves and attacked him. On Raphael's command, Tobit grabbed the fish and brought it to the hearth.

Before they roasted the fish, Raphael had Tobit dissect it and collect its heart, liver, and gall.

The following day, after they had reached Media, Raphael decided that he and Tobias should go and lodge with Raguel.

The Archangel encouraged Tobias not to be afraid to marry Sara, and assured him that the demon that had killed the seven previous men whom Sara had married would be banished and not harm him in any way. Additionally, Raphael pointed out that Tobias would do honor to his Israelite lineage, as Tobit had requested of him, by marrying Sara since she too pertained to the people of Israel.

On hearing this, Tobias subjected himself to Raphael's advice.

Following Raphael's instructions, Tobias took the liver and the heart of the fish that he had caught the other day and as soon as he and Sara, whom he had married that same day, had entered the wedding chamber, he laid the fish's remains upon some perfumed powders and burned them. Not being able to resist the odor and smoke coming from the fish's burnt viscera, the demon left Sara and fled to the distant lands of Egypt, where Raphael caught and bounded it.

The newly wed couple then made a prayer before God: "Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God. … [Tobias said] And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever." (Tobias 8:4-5; 9) And so they thanked God in prayer, after which Tobias and his new wife lay together in bed until the break of dawn.

Raguel, being ignorant of what had happened in the wedding chamber, had started doubting that Tobias was alive, and he even had one of his servants dig a grave in which to bury his new son-in-law should the demon have killed him as it had done with the previous men whom her daughter had married. These doubts, however intensified Raguel's mirth later on, for he rejoiced greatly upon seeing Tobias safe and sound and his daughter delivered from the demon's torment, and commanded that the wedding feast should be prolonged to fourteen days.

As he was obliged to remain in Raguel's home during the entire duration of the wedding's feast, Tobias asked Raphael to go without him to the city of Rages and recoup the ten silver talents that had been entrusted to Gabael.

The Archangel successfully retrieved the ten silver talents and brought them to Tobias, and the two commenced their journey back to Ninevah immediately after the wedding's feast had ended.

As soon as they had arrived back home, Tobit and his wife, Anna, were overwhelmed with joy to see them for they had assumed that something bad had happened to them on their journey due to their two-week-long absence.

But their joy would not end there, for Tobias, following Raphael's instructions, took the gall of the fish and rubbed Tobit's eyes with it and as soon as he had finished doing so his father regained his eyesight and could see again.

When old Tobit went to reward Raphael for his help and efforts, the latter revealed his true identity and said; "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One." (Tobit, 12;15)

Upon seeing this, Tobit and his son became overwhelmed with fear and bowed down before the Archangel. However, Raphael calmed their fright by gently addressing to them the following words; "Fear not, for it shall go well with you; praise God therefore. For not of any favour of mine, but by the will of our God I came; wherefore praise him forever. All these days I did appear unto you; but I did neither eat nor drink, but ye did see a vision. Now therefore give God thanks: for I go up to him that sent me; but write all things which are done in a book." (Tobit, 12;17-20)

Having finished saying this, the Holy Archangel Raphael disappeared, and Tobit and his son could see him no more.

Prayers to St. Raphael the Archangel

Prayer for Healing

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.

God, with great wisdom You direct the ministry of Angels and men. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.

Prayer Before a Trip

Dear St. Raphael, your lovely name means "God heals." The Lord sent you to young Tobias to guide him throughout a long journey. Upon his return you taught him how to cure his father's blindness. How natural, therefore, for Christians to pray for your powerful help for safe travel and a happy return. This is what we ask for ourselves as well as for all who are far from home. Amen.

Prayer to St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are

waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand

towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their

movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your joy.

Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet

of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and

tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need

of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so

that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of

the concerns of our country.

Remember the weak, you who are strong--you whose home lies beyond the

region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and

bright with the resplendent glory of God.

Amen.

O Raphael, lead us toward those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us: Raphael, Angel of happy meeting, lead us by the hand toward those we are looking for. May all our movements be guided by your Light and transfigured with your joy. Angel, guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of life, we feel the need of calling you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country. Remember the weak, you who are strong, you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

Prayer to St. Raphael: Patron of Travelers and Bearers of the Good News

St. Raphael, archangel, you protected young Tobias as he journeyed to a distant land. Protect all travelers and most especially those who go about near and far preaching the Gospel. Guide and inspire modern apostles who use the communications media to bring the Good News of Christ to many souls. You also brought healing and joy to all you met. Help those who bring the Word of God to souls, that they may be as instruments in God's Hands to draw many to lives of Christian holiness. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the Choice of a Good Spouse

St. Raphael, you were sent by God to guide young Tobias in choosing a good and virtuous spouse. Please help me in this important choice which will affect my whole future. You not only directed Tobiah in finding a wife, but you also gave him guidelines which should be foremost in every Christian marriage: "Pray together before making important decisions." If through prayer we keep God as the "third Partner" in our marriage, we will have the strength and grace we need to always accept and do His will. Amen.

Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory be...

St. Raphael, of the glorious seven who stand before the throne of Him Who lives and reigns. Angel of health, the Lord has filled your hand with balm from heaven to soothe or cure our pains. Heal or cure the victim of disease, and guide our steps when doubtful of our ways. Amen.

You arrow of love and doctor of God's love, wound our hearts, we beseech you, with burning love and do not let the wound heal so that we stay on the path of love every day and so that we overcome everything with it! Amen.

Litany in Honor of St. Raphael

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, King of Angels, have mercy on us.

Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, whose name means "God has healed", pray for us.

Saint Raphael, preserved with the good Angels in God's kingdom, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, one of the seven spirits that stand before the Most High, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, ministering to God in heaven, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, noble and mighty Messenger of God, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, devoted to the Holy Will of God, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who offered to God the prayers of the father Tobit, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, traveling-companion of the young Tobias, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who guarded your friends from danger, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who found a worthy wife for Tobias, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who delivered Sarah from the evil spirits, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who healed the father Tobit of his blindness, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, guide and protector on our journey through life, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, strong helper in time of need, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, conqueror of evil, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, guide and counselor of your people. pray for us.

Saint Raphael, protector of pure souls, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of youth, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of joy, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of happy meetings, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste courtship, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of those seeking a marriage-partner, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of a happy marriage, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Angel of home life, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, Guardian of the Christian family, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, protector of travelers, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, patron of health, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, heavenly physician, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, helper of the blind, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, healer of the sick, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, patron of physicians, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, support of the dying, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, herald of blessings, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, defender of the church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O glorious Saint Raphael the Archangel,

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

God, you graciously gave the Archangel Raphael as a companion to Your servant Tobias on his journey. Grant us, Your servants, that we may ever enjoy his protection and be strengthened by his help. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Vouchsafe, O Lord God, to send holy Raphael the Archangel to aid us: and may he whom we believe ever to stand before Thy Majesty, present our poor prayers to be blessed by Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with The in the unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.

Most glorious Prince, Archangel Raphael, be mindful of us and pray for us, here and in every place, to the Son of God. O God, who gave your servant Tobias the holy archangel Raphael for a companion on his journey, grant that during our earthly pilgrimage we may always be protected by his watchful care and strengthened by his help. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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