Facts about St. Raphael the Archangel Novena
Feastday: September 29th
Novena Starts: September 20th
Patron saint of travelers, the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, matchmakers, Christian marriage, and Catholic studies.
Who Is St. Raphael?
St. Raphael is one of the three Archangels mentioned in Scripture.
His name means God has healed, and in the biblical book of Tobit, St. Raphael reveals himself as the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. He is the patron saint of the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, matchmakers, Christian marriage, Catholic studies, healing of bodily ills, and for finding one’s future spouse.
Some Jewish scholars from the Middle Ages believed that Raphael was one of the three angels that appeared to Abraham in Mamre in the Book of Genesis. Raphael is also included in the (apocryphal) Book of Enoch alongside archangels Michael, Gabriel and Uriel. (Note that the Catholic Church does not accept the book of Enoch as inspired Scripture.)
Some also believe that Raphael was the angel in the Gospel of St. John that stirred the water at the healing pool of Bethesda.
Raphael in the Book of Tobit
In the book of Tobit, Raphael disguises himself in human form and calls himself “Azarias the son of the great Ananias” and journeys with Tobit’s son, Tobiah.
After the journey, Raphael explains to Tobit that he was sent by God to heal Tobit’s blindness and protect Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. Then in Tobit 12:15, he demonstrates his power to heal as he announced that he is “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord”.
In the book of Tobit, Sarah had tried marrying multiple times, only to have the demon Asmodeus kill her would-be husband on the night of the wedding (before consummation). Raphael directed Tobiah and Sarah to pray for deliverance from Asmodeus, and by God’s grace their prayer was answered. (Because of Tobiah’s beautiful prayer, the book of Tobit is often used as a reading in Catholic weddings.)
Raphael follows through on his promise and heals Tobit’s blindness, and the entire extended family is blessed the rest of their days.
Raphael in the Church
St. Raphael is usually depicted with a staff and a fish (the staff for traveling, the fish because in Tobit he directs Tobiah to use the fish’s gall to heal his father). His feast day is celebrated on September 29, along with St. Michael and St. Gabriel.
Pray to St. Raphael for healing. You can also pray to him for protection on a journey.
Healing Prayer of St. Raphael
Glorious Archangel Saint Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace.
You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels.
Because you are the medicine of God, I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (mention your request here) and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
St. Raphael, of the glorious seven who stand before the throne of Him who lives and reigns, Angel of health, the Lord has filled your hand with balm from heaven to soothe or cure our pains. Heal or cure the victim of disease, and guide our steps when doubtful of our ways.
(Say this prayer each day for the 9 days of the novena)
More Resources on St. Raphael
The Catholic Church has dogmatically defined the book of Tobit to be Scripture, inspired by God.
Nonetheless, Protestants chose to reject this book in the 1500s, along with six others, and so Tobit is not found in Protestant Bibles.
Because of this error, Protestants generally reject St. Raphael, since they seek only to believe in what is found in their (truncated) Bible. So it is good to be aware of this fact when you are in discussions with Protestant friends.
One of the arguments put forth by the Protestant Reformers in rejecting Tobit and the other six books, was that they were not written in Hebrew or Aramaic, but only in Greek.
However, unbenownst to them, centuries later, in the 1900s, researchers found the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contained four manuscripts of the original Aramaic text of Tobit, and one in Hebrew. Here you will find a deeper explanation of why Tobit and the other six books, called the deuterocanonicals, should be included in Scripture.
On a personal note, true to St. Raphael’s claim as the patron saint of happy meetings and finding your future spouse, I first met my wife on what was then called St. Raphael’s site for Catholic singles. That site, long since renamed to CatholicMatch.com was instrumental in my wife and I meeting and marrying.
We credit St. Raphael for his patronage in bringing us together in marriage!