Raphael (רָפָאֵל, Rāfāʾēl, ‘It is God who heals’, ‘God Heals’, ‘God, Please Heal’; Ραφαήλ, رفائيل or إسرافيل) is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Raphael performs all manners of healing according to all Abrahamic religions.
Medieval French rabbi, author and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) commentator Rashi views Raphael as being one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in the oak grove of Mamre in the Book of Genesis. Raphael is also mentioned in the Book of Enoch alongside archangels Michael, Gabriel and Uriel.
Raphael was generally associated with the angel mentioned in the Gospel of John as stirring the water at the healing pool of Bethesda. Raphael is also an angel in Mormonism, as he is briefly mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants. Raphael is also mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglicans. Raphael is a venerated angel within the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions, and he is often given the title “Saint Raphael”.
In Islam, Raphael is the fourth major angel; and in the Muslim tradition, he is known as Isrāfīl. Though unnamed in the Quran, hadith identifies Israfil with the angel of Quran 6:73. Within Islamic eschatology, Israfil is traditionally attributed to a trumpet, which is poised at his lips, and when God so commands he shall be ready to announce the Day of Resurrection.
According to the Talmud, Raphael is identified as one of the three angels that 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). All three angels were commanded to carry out a specific mission. Gabriel’s mission was to destroy Sodom; Michael’s mission was to inform Sarah that she would give birth to Issac in a year’s time; Raphael’s mission was 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.” 
Raphael is named in several Jewish apocryphal books. The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel. Medieval Jewish philosopherMaimonides made a Jewish angelic hierarchy, which includes the archangel Raphael.
In the Book of Enoch
Raphael bound Azazel under a desert called Dudael according to Enoch 10:4–6:
And again the Lord said to Raphael: “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire.”
“Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men.” (1 Enoch 20:7)
When Enoch asked who the four figures were that he had seen: “And he said to me: ‘This first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over all the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel.’ And these are the four angels of the Lord of Spirits and the four voices I heard in those days.” (Enoch 40:9)
Of archangels in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only Michael, mentioned as archangel (Daniel 12:1), and Gabriel are mentioned by name in canonical books.
In Catholicism and the Orthodox Church
Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael, there is his declaration to Tobit (Tobit, 12) 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 kills every man she marries on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated.
In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name (Luke 1:9–26; Jude 1:9). Later manuscripts of John 5:1–4 refer to the pool of Bethesda, where the multitude of the infirm lay awaiting the moving of the water, for “an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under”. Because of the healing role assigned to Raphael, this particular angel is generally associated with the archangel.
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, 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.
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. 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 and Koiak 13.
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.
Raphael (Arabic: إسرافيل, Isrāfīl, 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. The trumpet is constantly poised at his lips, ready to be blown when God so orders.
The name “Israfil” (or “Israfel”, “Esrafil”) is not specifically written in the Qur’an, though 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. 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. Further he is probably the highest angel, since he also mediates between God and the other archangels, reading on the Tablet to transmit the commands of God.
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.
- Doctrine and Covenants 128:21.
- “Angels in the Talmud”, Jewish Heritage Online Magazine
- “The Book of Enoch: The Book of Enoch: Chapter X”. Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- Driscoll, James F. “St. Raphael.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 3 May 2013
- Weninger, Francis Xavier. Lives of the Saints, P. O’Shea, 1876
- “Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels”, Catholic News Agency
- Dictionary of Patron Saints’ Names, Thomas W. Sheehan, p. 514, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2001, ISBN0-87973-539-2
- “All About St. Raphael the Archangel”, St. Raphael Episcopal Church
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 143)
- “Israfil”. Encyclopaedia. Britannica. Retrieved 20 November2012.
- 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, ISBN9780029070505
- Lewis, James R., Oliver, Evelyn Dorothy, Sisung Kelle S. (Editor) (1996), Angels A to Z, p. 224, Visible Ink Press, ISBN0-7876-0652-9
- Stephen Burge Angels in Islam: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti’s al-Haba’ik fi akhbar al-mala’ik Routledge 2015 ISBN978-1-136-50473-0 page 92
- See Jalaluddeen As Suyuti’s compilation on the proofs of Qutb, Awtad and Abdals.
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