St. Raphael is an archangel, one of three angels known by name from Sacred Scripture, and only in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament of the Bible in the Septuagint since the 1st century B.C. and in the Vulgate. Martin Luther removed the Book of Tobit from the Old Testament in the 16th century and placed it in the Apocrypha. The name of Raphael is not found in the canon of the Protestant Bible. The other two archangels known by name in the Bible are St. Michael and St. Gabriel. The feast days of these three archangels in the Catholic Church were originally celebrated separately, but have been combined on September 29 as the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. In the Orthodox Church the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers is commemorated on November 8.
Raphael's name in Hebrew: רָפָאֵל, Rāfāʾēl, "It is God who heals", "God Heals", "God, Please Heal".
In the Book of Tobit Raphael is one of the Seven Holy Angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the Presence of the Glory of the Holy One. (Compare Revelation 8:2 "Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God".) When Tobit and Sarah, in separate places, prayed, Raphael presented their prayers to God, and God sent Raphael to heal Tobit's blindness and heal Sarah of the murderous demon Asmodeus who killed her seven husbands each on his wedding night.
The Sadducees referred to the Book of Tobit when they posed the dilemma of the seven childless husbands to Jesus, "in the resurrection, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife." Luke 20:27-40.The Seven Spirits are mentioned without name in the Book of Revelation 1:4
"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne."John tells us he saw seven angels with seven trumpets who sounded, seven angels with seven plagues who poured them, and testifies that one of the seven showed him the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
Of the seven "archangels" which appear in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned in the canonical Scriptures of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The others, according to the Book of Enoch (see chap. xxi) are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel.
TRADITIONAL PRAYER TO ST. RAPHAEL
- Glorious Archangel Saint 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 favour
- (Make your request here...)
- and the great grace of purity
- to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- 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.