| By Candace Bryant-Lester

St. Raphael the Archangel

Feast: Sept. 29

September 1, 2023 | Sept. 29 is the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

While the angel Gabriel is well-known as the angel of Christmas, and Michael, the commander of the heavenly army, battles Satan in the Book of Revelation, we may not be as familiar with St. Raphael. His name means “God has healed,” and he plays an important role in the Book of Tobit.

When Tobit prayed for death due to his misfortunes and blindness, and Sarah, a young woman, prayed for the same because she had lost seven husbands to a demon on each wedding night, God sent Raphael to intervene. Tobit’s son, Tobiah, had to make a journey for his father but did not know the way. Raphael, disguised as a traveler, appears to accompany him. Raphael says to Tobit: “I will go with [Tobiah]. Do not fear. In good health we will leave you, and in good health we will return to you, for the way is safe.” (5:16)

During the trip, Raphael orders Tobiah to gut a fish so they could use its parts later as medicine. The travelers came across Sarah along the way, and Raphael urges Tobiah to take Sarah as a wife. When Tobiah protests, concerned that her previous husbands had died on the wedding night, Raphael encourages Tobiah to use the fish’s liver and heart to drive the demon away. Later, upon returning home, Tobiah uses the fish gall as medicine on his father’s eyes and restores his sight.

After the wedding, Raphael reveals that he is “one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” (12:15) Tobit and Tobiah are greatly shaken by these words, but he says: “Do not fear; peace be with you! Bless God now and forever.” (12:17) Raphael, therefore, is the third archangel in the trio of heavenly heroes who deliver God’s power, good news, and healing touch to humanity.