||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (July 2013)|
Saint Raphael the Archangel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
|Archangel, 'Angel of Tobit', Angel of the Trumpet|
|Feast||September 29; October 24 (local calendars and among Traditional Roman Catholics)|
|Attributes||Archangel holding a bottle or flask; Archangel walking with Tobias; Archangel; young man carrying a fish; young man carrying a staff|
|Patronage||apothecaries; blind people; bodily ills; diocese of Madison, WI, druggists; archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; insanity; lovers; mental illness; nightmares, nurses; pharmacists; physicians; archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; shepherds; sick people; travelers; young people|
Raphael (Standard Hebrew רָפָאֵל, Rāfāʾēl, "It is God who heals", "God Heals", "God, Please Heal") is an archangel of Judaism and Christianity, who in the Judeo-Christian tradition performs all manners of healing. In Islam, Raphael is the same as Israfil. Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglo-Catholics, and as useful for public teaching by Lutherans and Anglicans. Raphael is generally associated with the angel mentioned in the Gospel of John as stirring the water at the healing pool of Bethesda.
The angels mentioned in the Torah, the older books of the Hebrew Bible, are without names. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish of Tiberias (A.D. 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.
Raphael is named in several Jewish apocryphal books (see below).
In the Book of Enoch
- 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.
Of seven archangels in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only Michael, mentioned as archangel (Daniel 12:1; Jude verse 9) and Gabriel are mentioned by name in the scriptures that came to be accepted as canonical by all Christians.
The name of the angel Raphael appears only in the Deuterocanonical Book of Tobit. The Book of Tobit is considered canonical by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglicans. Raphael first appears disguised in human form as the 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, we have 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 at 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.
Raphael is sometimes shown as standing atop a large fish or holding a caught fish at the end of a line. This is a reference to the Book of Tobit (Tobias), where he told Tobias to catch a fish, and then uses the gallbladder to heal Tobit's eyes, and to drive away Asmodeus by burning the heart and liver.
Due to his actions in the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of John, St. 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 Catholic 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.
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 reform of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, 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 Roman Catholic Church still permits use of the 1962 calendar, allowing both feast days.
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. St. John of God, founder of the Hospital order that bears his name, is also said to have received visitations from St. 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, St. Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds is also said to have seen an apparition of Raphael.
According to the hadith, he is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day by blowing the trumpet (namely Sûr). According to tradition, the trumpet will be blown three times. The first blow of the trumpet will signal the beginning of Last Day and the second blow will signal the death of all living things and the third blow will signal the time when all the souls from all ages will be gathered for the Last Judgement. According to the hadith, an unnamed trumpet-angel, assumed to be Israfel, has been holding his breath, waiting for Allah's order to blow the Sûr.
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, the Philippines, Venezuela as San Rafael de Mohán and San Rafael de Orituco.
- In the United States, San Rafaels inherited from Mexico survive in California (where besides the city there are 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
In Paradise Lost
The angel Raphael, along with many other prominent angels, appears in John Milton's Paradise Lost, in which he is assigned by God to re-warn Adam concerning the sin of eating of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He also expounds to Adam the War in Heaven in which Lucifer and the demons fell, and the creation of the Earth.
- "The Book of Enoch: The Book of Enoch: Chapter X". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- Driscoll, James F. "St. Raphael." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 3 May 2013
- The Hebrew word for a doctor of medicine is Rophe connected to the same root as Raphael.
- "Dictionary of Patron Saints' Names", Thomas W. Sheehan, p514, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0-87973-539-2
- "Archangel Raphael", Queen of Angels Foundation
- "All About St. Raphael the Archangel", St.Raphael Episcopal Church
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 143)
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