Archangel Raphael

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Archangel Raphael
Painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The name “Raphael” means “God heals”, and from early in the church’s history the archangel Raphael has been associated with the healing ministry of the church.

Angels are rarely mentioned by name in the Old Testament. The archangels are referred to as numbering seven (e.g., Revelation 8:2 and Tobit 7:15) and are listed in 1 Enoch 1:20 as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remiel.

Raphael plays a major part in the book of Tobit in the Apocrypha, as the angel who restores Tobit’s sight and binds an evil demon so that the marriage of Sarah’s and Tobit’s son Tobias can take place.

In the Book of Enoch, Raphael is “the angel of the spirits of men,” and it is his business to “heal the earth which the angels [i.e., the fallen angels] have defiled.”

In John’s Gospel, some textual traditions of the healing at the pool of Bethzatha (John 5:1-9) include a reference to an angel who came down and stirred the water (now usually regarded as later additions to the Gospel). The tradition grew up that the angel was Raphael.