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This page chronicles references to the Archangel Raphael in various religious texts and documents. It is not intended as a debate or discussion of the actual existence of God, angels or other supernatural beings. For discussion about the existence of the Archangel Raphael and other divine beings, please click here to visit our page entitled  "theology".

Raphael is one of only three archangels whose name is specifically mentioned in Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious traditions.  

Jewish / Judaic / Hebrew Tradition-

The angels mentioned in the Torah (the older books of the Hebrew Bible), are without names. But the Archangel Raphael is mentioned by name in several Jewish "apocryphal" books. (Apocryphal texts are those that may have been used or accepted by all or part of a religious group, but are not included or universally accepted as part of the "official" religious scripture of that religion.)

Christian Tradition-
Many people are not aware that the version of the Bible accepted by Roman Catholics contains more books than the version of the Bible accepted by Protestant denominations (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, etc.).  "Orthodox" churches also ascribe to versions of the Bible that contain differing official books. 
 
The "Book of Tobit" is one of the books that is accepted as part of the Bible by Catholic and Orthodox churches, but is not included in Protestant Bibles. In this book there occurs a detailed narration in which the Archangel Raphael is one of the central characters.

Raphael first appears in the "Book of Tobit" disguised in human form, as the traveling companion of a young man named Tobias. During the course of Tobias' journey the Archangel Raphael's protective influence and healing powers are shown in many ways. Raphael  rescues the Tobias from being devoured by a great fish. Raphael then uses the fish's gall to miraculously heal Tobias's father Tobit of blindness. Raphael also rescues young Tobias' wife Sarah from a demon named Asmodeus, who had killed each of Sarah's first seven husbands on their wedding nights, before they could lay with Sarah. 

Because of the elder Tobit's works of charity and mercy, Raphael is willing to step in and save young Tobias (the 8th man who is betrothed to Sarah) from the same fate. Raphael handily defeats the demon Asmodeus, binds him, and throws him into the desert.

In this narrative, Raphael at first conceals his true identity from Tobias and calls himself "Azarias the son of the great Ananias" but later reveals himself to be "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" [Tobit 12:15].


Alternate Names & Spellings:
       
Rafael; Israfil or Israfel (Arabic); 
        Azarias (human pseudonym).

Meaning of Name:
      
"God Heals"  or  "God Please Heal" 
         or  "It is God Who Heals"

Feast Days:
        Original-
October 24
        Revised-
September 29
        All Archangels- May 8

Patron Saint or Protector of:
   
doctors, nurses, health care workers;
    pharmacists / druggists / chemists;
   
blind, ill, sick disabled or mentally ill; 
   
people suffering from nightmares;
   
travelers, young people; couples / lovers;
    any one needing help or protection.

Symbolically Represented in Art:
   
may be shown with or without wings; 
   
walking with Tobit or a human traveler;
   
carrying a bottle, flask, fish or staff;
    mortar & pestle for grinding medicine.



In the New Testament, Michael and Gabriel are the only Archangels specifically mentioned by name.  However, Catholic, Orthodox and some protestant traditions (e.g. Anglican) ascribe to the belief that Raphael is one of the unnamed angels in John's Revelation 8:2, and venerate and patronize him as Saint Raphael the Archangel
.

Apocrypha (unofficial ancient Jewish & Christian texts)-
Raphael is also mentioned by name - along with several other angels - in "The Book of Enoch." This apocryphal text is not accepted as a book of the Torah, nor of the Catholic or Protestant versions of the Bible, but it is part of the Biblical scripture of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. Though not "canonical" this book is widely accepted by scholars as an authentic ancient Jewish text that heavily influenced subsequent Jewish and Christian Christian writings. 

The first section of "The Book of Enoch" depicts in detail the interaction of the "fallen angels" with mankind. Sin and chaos result, and the Archangels Raphael, Michael, Uriel and Gabriel appeal to God to judge the inhabitants of the world and the fallen angels.  God then sends Uriel to tell Noah of the coming apocalypse and how to prepare. Then God sends Raphael to defeat and imprison the ring-leader of the fallen angels, named Az‚zÍl. Raphael succeeds mightily, and Az‚zÍl is banished.

God also imparts upon Raphael the momentous responsibility  to ". . .heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons..."  An important task, indeed.

Islamic Tradition-
Raphael is known as Israfil in the Islamic Tradition. He is not mentioned directly in the Qur'an, but he is discussed specifically by name in the Hadiths of Muhammad. He is also mentioned in several traditional stories of Islam.  

According to the Hadith, Israfil (Raphael) is the Angel responsible for signaling the coming of Qiyamah (Judgment Day) by blowing a horn and sending out a Blast of Truth. This blowing of the trumpet is described in many places in the Qur'an. It is said that the first blow will destroy everything [Qur'an 69:13],while the second blow will bring all human beings back to life again [Qur'an 36:51].

Israfil is held in highest esteem in the Islamic tradition, as evidenced by the Sufi narrations of the "pious predecessors" or early Muslim generations. According to these declarations, the individuals regarded among mankind as having the highest rank of the "Siddiqun" (Islamic saints), are those who have a heart that resembles that of Israfil (Raphael). 

Cultural Influence-
Because of his prominence in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, homage to the Archangel Raphael has
permeated Eastern and Western architecture, art, literature, and geography.  Churches across every continent feature stained glass windows depicting Raphael and the other archangels.  Myriad paintings and sculptures, dating from ancient  times through the present day, also depict the glorious winged messengers of God, including the Archangel Raphael.  Angels, including Raphael, were a particularly beloved subject of painters during the highly religious Renaissance era.  To view many of these images, click here to see the page  Images of Raphael the Archangel.

In literature, Raphael's most well known role is in John Milton's Paradise Lost.  There he is assigned by God to re-warn Adam of the sin of eating of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Raphael is also charged with relating to Adam the narrative of the creation of Earth, and the story of the war in heaven in which the Archangel Lucifer fell from grace.

Countless individuals have been named after Raphael, by religious parents seeking the Archangel's influence and protection for their children. Most notable of these namesakes is the renowned Italian master painter and architect in the High Renaissance, Raffaello Sanzio (1483Ė1520) - often also simply known as Raphael.

Cities have also been named after the Archangel Raphael in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, France, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, the Philippines and Venezuela.  In the United States, the state of California boasts both a city and a mountain range named after "San Raphael". 

Even those who do not believe in the existence of supernatural beings, cannot deny the impact that the belief in the Archangel Raphael has had on humanity since the beginning of recorded time.  Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, we invite you to return to the Main Menu and explore the beautiful images, prayers, theological discussions, stories and testimonials surrounding the globally revered and venerated protector, healer and messenger Archangel Raphael.

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