St Raphael

St. Raphael

The root of the name Raphael also appears in the modern Hebrew word Rophe meaning doctor of medicine, thus echoing the healing function traditionally attributed to this angel.

Raphael in Catholicism

The name of the angel Raphael appears only in the Deuterocanonical Book of Tobit.  The Book of Tobit is considered canonical by Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Christians.  Raphael first appears disguised in human form as the traveling companion of Tobit's son, Tobiah, calling himself "Azarias the son of the great Ananias".  During the adventurous course of the journey, the archangel's protective influence is shown in many ways including the binding of the demon in the desert of upper Egypt.  After the return of the healing of the blindness of Tobit, Azarias makes himself known as "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" Tobit 12:15.  Compare the unnamed angels in John's Revelation 8:2 He is often venerated and patronized as St. Raphael the Archangel.

Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael, we have his declaration to Tobit 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 abducts and kills every man she marries on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated. Among Catholics, he is considered the patron saint of medical workers, matchmakers and travelers and may be petitioned by them or those needing their services.

The feast day of Raphael was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in the year 1921, for celebration on October 24.  With the reform of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, this feast was transferred to September 29 for celebration together with Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel. 

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 Book of Tobit, 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.