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Raphael (archangel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Raphael.JPG
Saint Raphael the Archangel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Archangel, 'Angel of Tobit', Angel of the Trumpet
Venerated inJudaism
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
AttributesArchangel holding a bottle or flask; Archangel walking with Tobias; Archangel sounding a trumpet; young man carrying a fish; young man carrying a staff
PatronageApothecaries; Ordained marriage; 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; healing; physicians; shepherds; sick people; travelers; young people; archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Abra de Ilog, Mindoro Occidental, Philippines

Raphael (/ˈræfiəl/; Hebrew: רְפָאֵל‎, translit. Rəp̄āʾēl, lit. 'God has healed'; Ancient Greek: Ραφαήλ, Raphaḗl; Coptic: ⲣⲁⲫⲁⲏⲗ, Rafaêl; Arabic: رافائيل‎, Rafā’īl, or إسرافيل, Isrāfīl; Amharic: ሩፋኤል, Rufaʾel) is an archangel mentioned in the Book of Tobit and in 1 Enoch, both dating from the last few centuries before Christ.[2][3] In later Jewish tradition he became identified as one of the three heavenly visitors entertained by Abraham. He is not named in either the Christian New Testament or the Quran, but in later Christian tradition he became identified with healing and as the angel who stirred the waters of the pool of Bethesda in John 5:2-4,[2] while in Islam, where his name is Israfil, he is understood to be the unnamed angel of Quran 6:73 who stands eternally with a trumpet to his lips, ready to announce the Day of Resurrection.

Origins in post-exilic literature

In the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) the word 'מלאך' ('mal'āk̠') means a messenger, human or supernatural, and when used in the latter sense it is translated as "angel".[4] The original mal'ak lacked both individuality and hierarchy, but after the Babylonian exile they were graded into a Babylonian-style hierarchy and the word archangelos, archangel, first appears in the Greek text of 1 Enoch.[5][6] At the same time the angels and archangels began to be given names, as attested in the Talmudic statement that "the names of the angels were brought by the Jews from Babylonia".[7]

Raphael first appears in two works of this period, 1 Enoch, a collection of originally independent texts from the 3rd century BCE, and the Book of Tobit, from the early 2nd century BCE.[8][9] In the oldest stratum of 1 Enoch (1 Enoch 9:1) he is one of the four named archangels, and in Tobit 12:11-15 he is one of seven.[10]

His name derives from a Hebrew root meaning "to heal", and can be translated as "God healed".[11] In Tobit he is both one who acts as a physician and expels demons,[11] using an extraordinary fish to bind the demon Asmodeus) and to heal Tobit's eyes; in 1 Enoch he is "set over all disease and every wound of the children of the people",[11] and binds the armies of Azazel and throws them into the valley of fire.[9]

In later Judaism

Abraham with the Three Angels by Rembrandt
Abraham with the Three Angels by Rembrandt

According to the Babylonian Talmud, Raphael was one of the three angels who appeared to Abraham in the oak grove of Mamre in the region of Hebron. (Gen. xviii; Bava Metzia 86b); Michael, as the greatest, walked in the middle, with Gabriel to his right and Raphael to his left (Yoma 37a). Each was commanded to carry out a specific mission, Gabriel to destroy Sodom, Michael to inform Sarah that she would give birth to Isaac, Raphael to heal Abraham from his recent circumcision and save Lot. Rashi writes, "Although Raphael's mission included two tasks, they were considered a single mission since they were both acts that saved people."[12] The Life of Adam and Eve lists him with the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel, and the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides included his name in his Jewish angelic hierarchy.


Tobias and the Angel by Gustave Doré
Tobias and the Angel by Gustave Doré

The New Testament names only two archangels or angels, Michael and Gabriel (Luke 1:9–26; Jude 1:9; Revelation 12:7), but Raphael, because of his association with healing, became identified with the unnamed angel of John 5:1–4 who periodically stirred the pool of Bethesda "[a]nd he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under".[13] The Catholic church accordingly links Raphael with Michael and Gabriel as saints whose intercession can be sought through prayer.[14]

Protestant denominations in general do not accept Raphael, but the name is widely recognized in church tradition as a result of Protestantism's origins in Catholic Christianity.


Raphael, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, detail
Raphael, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, detail

Due to his actions in the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of John, Saint Raphael is accounted patron of travelers, the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, matchmakers,[15] Christian marriage, and Catholic studies. As a particular enemy of the devil, he was revered in Catholic Europe as a special protector of 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.[16] Early mosaics often show him and the other archangels in the clothing of a Byzantine courtier.[17]

Feast day

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 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast was transferred to September 29 for celebration together with archangels Saints Michael and Gabriel.[18] Due to Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum, the Catholic Church permits, within certain limits for public use, the General Roman Calendar of 1960, which has October 24 as Raphael's feast day.

The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates his feast on Kouji Nabot 3[1] and Koiak 13.[19]


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. Saint John of God, founder of the Hospital order that bears his name, is also said to have received visitations from Saint 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, Saint Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds is also said to have seen apparitions of Raphael.

In Islam

The Archangel Israfil, made in Egypt or Syria, late 14th–early 15th century
The Archangel Israfil, made in Egypt or Syria, late 14th–early 15th century

Raphael (Arabic: إسرافيل‎, romanizedIsrāfīl, alternate spellings: Israfel, Esrafil) is a venerated archangel according to Islamic tradition. In Islamic eschatology, Israfil will blow the trumpet from a holy rock in Jerusalem to announce the Day of Resurrection (Yawm al-Qiyāmah). The trumpet is constantly poised at his lips, ready to be blown when God so orders.[20]

The name "Israfil" (or "Israfel", "Esrafil") is not specifically written in the Quran, although there is mention of an unnamed trumpet-angel assumed to identify this figure:

"And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those that are in the heavens and all those that are in the earth shall swoon, except him whom Allah will; then it shall be blown again, then they shall stand up awaiting." — Qur'an (39.68).

Certain Islamic sources indicate that, created at the beginning of time, Israfil possesses four wings, and is so tall as to be able to reach from the earth to the pillars of heaven.[21] A beautiful angel who is a master of music, Israfil sings praises to God in a thousand different languages, the breath of which is used to inject life into hosts of angels who add to the songs themselves.[22] Further he is probably the highest angel, since he also mediates between God and the other archangels, reading on the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfooz) to transmit the commands of God.[23] Although disputed, some reports assert, he visited Muhammad prior to the archangel Gabriel.[24]

According to Sufi traditions reported by Imam al-Suyuti, the Ghawth or Qutb ('perfect human being'), is someone who has a heart that resembles that of the archangel Israfil, signifying the loftiness of this angel. The next in rank are the saints who are known as the Umdah or Awtad, amongst whom the highest ones have their hearts resembling that of archangel Mikhail (archangel Michael), and the rest of the lower ranking saints having the heart of Jibrail (archangel Gabriel), and that of the previous prophets before the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The earth is believed to always have one of the Qutb.[25]

Places named for Raphael

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, and the Philippines; also San Rafael de El Moján and San Rafael de Orituco in Venezuela.

The Arcangelo Raffaello youth confraternity functioned in Florence, Italy from its founding in 1411 to its suppression in 1785.[26]

St. John of God Catholic Church in Chicago, IL, was disassembled, moved and reassembled as St. Raphael the Archangel Church in Mill Creek, IL.[27]

In popular culture

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.[28]

In Joseph Haydn's Creation, Raphael (bass) is one of the three angelic narrators, along with Gabriel (soprano) and Uriel (tenor).

He also appears as "Rafael" in the role-playing game Anima Beyond Fantasy as one of the seven Beryls (god-like spirits of light, all but one having taken female gender). She is identified by the humans with the archangel of the same name and incarnates life and nature.[citation needed]

Characters associated with Angelic figures, at least by borrowing the names, also feature in the video game industry, as an example there is the title: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.[citation needed]

Raphael features as one of the four archangels in the TV series Supernatural.

In season 2 of the TV series Criminal Minds the archangel Raphael is brought up as being one of Tobias Hankel's personalities.

In the Yogscast Youtube series, Shadow of Israphel, the main antagonist and titular character derives his namesake from that of St. Raphael.


See also


  1. ^ a b "رئيس الملائكة الجليل رافائيل - كتاب الملائكة |".
  2. ^ a b Coogan 1993, p. 642.
  3. ^ Barnes 1993, p. 54.
  4. ^ Meier 1999, p. 47.
  5. ^ Grossman 2011, p. 52.
  6. ^ Van Henten 1999, p. 81.
  7. ^ Grossman 2011, p. 51.
  8. ^ Esler 2017, p. 3.
  9. ^ a b Soll 2000, p. 1110.
  10. ^ Barker 2006, p. 123.
  11. ^ a b c Mach 1999, p. 688.
  12. ^ "Three Angels: Ask the Rabbi Response". aishcom.
  13. ^ "Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels". Catholic News Agency.
  14. ^ Cresswell 2011, p. unpaginated.
  15. ^ Dictionary of Patron Saints' Names, Thomas W. Sheehan, p. 514, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0-87973-539-2
  16. ^ "St. Raphael's Parish: All About St. Raphael the Archangel".
  17. ^ "St. Raphael and Tobias in Christian Art and Iconography".
  18. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 143)
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "Israfil". Encyclopaedia. Britannica. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  21. ^ Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including The Fallen Angels, Entry: Israfel, Free Press, pp. 151, 152, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 66-19757, ISBN 9780029070505
  22. ^ Lewis, James R., Oliver, Evelyn Dorothy, Sisung Kelle S. (Editor) (1996), Angels A to Z, p. 224, Visible Ink Press, ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
  23. ^ Stephen Burge Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti's al-Haba'ik fi akhbar al-mala'ik Routledge 2015 ISBN 978-1-136-50473-0 page 92
  24. ^ Joel L. Kraemer Israel Oriental Studies, Band 13 BRILL 1993 ISBN 9789004099012 p. 219
  25. ^ See Jalaluddeen As Suyuti's compilation on the proofs of Qutb, Awtad and Abdals.
  26. ^ Eisenbichler, Konrad (November 1, 2011). "The Boys of the Archangel Raphael". University of Toronto Press – via Google Books.
  27. ^ Moran, Dan (February 17, 2015). "Spiritual journey: Chicago church moved, rebuilt in Lake County". Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  28. ^ Sherry, Beverley (1979). "Milton's Raphael and the Legend of Tobias". The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. 78 (2): 227–241 – via JSTOR.


This page was last edited on 27 July 2021, at 15:46
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