The Feast Day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is September 29th. The adventure story of the Angel Raphael is told in the Book of Tobit. Although called “Saints”, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are angels, rather than “saints” who have been seemingly around since the beginning of time. An angel is a being described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as follows: “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith.” The purpose of angels is described as, “With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God.”
Most Catholics are familiar with Saint Michael, the leader of the angels and with the prayer to St. Michael (read more about him at https://churchwonders.com/mary-saints/saints/saint-michael-the-archangel/). Many are also familiar with the Angel Gabriel who appeared at The Annunciation as a trusted messenger of God where he proclaimed the message to Mary starting the human knowledge of the Incarnation, “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:27-29)
However, the story of the Angel Raphael is a less-well-known, but captivating story told in the style of a religious adventure novel in the Book of Tobit. In the Old Testament book, the Angel Raphael plays a prominent role as a guide and messenger. The Book relates the story of Tobit, a pious and well-off Israelite, who lived around 721 B.C. He was exiled to the Northern Israel city of Nineveh and lost his fortune, and his eyesight. Tobit sent his son Tobiah to their former home in Media to retrieve a large sum of money that Tobit had stored there. Due to the danger of the journey, Tobit prayed for a guide to protect his son. Tobit’s prayers were answered by the appearance of the Angel Raphael in the form of a human.
Raphael (with the human name of Azariah) accompanied Tobiah on the journey to Media. On the way, they encountered a large fish leaping at Tobiah from the Tigris River. Raphael instructed Tobiah to slay the fish and to keep the gall, heart and liver to use as potions in the future. The miraculous heart and liver would be used as repulsive aromatic incense to repel an evil demon from Tobiah and his wife’s wedding chamber; and the gall used as a paste to spread on his father’s eyes to restore his sight.
After Raphael had guided Tobiah to Media, they met his future father-in-law, Raguel, as well as his future wife Sarah. Sarah had prayed for assistance as her previous seven husbands had met their death in the wedding chamber at the hands of the demon, Asmodeus. Tobiah put the fish heart and liver in the incense in the room on their wedding night and repelled the demon who was then killed by Raphael.
After Tobiah and Sarah were happily married, they recovered the money previously hidden at Media by Tobit. They then returned to Nineveh to his parents (Tobit and Anna) where Tobiah restored his father’s eyesight using the fish gall as a paste.
Raphael then revealed his identity to Tobit when he said, “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” (Tobit, 12:15). Raphael continued, “‘Do not fear; peace be with you! Bless God now and forever. As for me, when I was with you, I was not acting out of any favor on my part, but by God’s will. So bless God every day; give praise with song. Even though you saw me eat and drink, I did not eat or drink anything; what you were seeing was a vision. So now bless the Lord on earth and give thanks to God. Look, I am ascending to the one who sent me. Write down all that has happened to you.’ And he ascended. They stood up but were no longer able to see him. They kept blessing God and singing his praises, and they continued to give thanks for these marvelous works that God had done, because an angel of God appeared to them.” (Tobit, 12:17-22)
Read the full story in the Book of Tobit at the reference shown below.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church – https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p5.htm
Catholic Culture – Feasts of St. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2014-09-29
St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church – https://saintmichaelcc.org/prayer-to-st-michael-the-archangel
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops – The Book of Tobit – https://bible.usccb.org/bible/tobit/0