St. Raphael the Archangel

Unlike the archangels Michael and Gabriel, Raphael only appears in the books of Tobit and Enoch, books that are not in all denominations' Bibles. However, he is also featured very prominently especially in the story of Tobit, which is a very interesting story indeed!

Lifetime: Eternity
Region: Heaven & Earth
Patronages: Pharmacists; Physicians; The blind; Lovers
Iconograpy: Angel with fish; Staff; Bottle or flask
Feast Day: September 29 (with other Archangels)

Raphael's name means "God healed", and his role in Tobit is a great example of that.

In the book of Tobit, Tobit himself, a faithful man of God, gets blinded by... Well, there's no tame way to put this. He falls asleep and birds poop in his eyes. Afflicted by this blindness, Tobit prays that God let him die so he can stop being a burden upon his family, but the blindness persists for years. However, he eventually recalls a big bunch of money he had left behind in a far-off land, so he decides to send his son Tobias to retrieve it for him.

God then sends the archangel Raphael, disguised as one of Tobias' cousins, to help Tobias on the way. Tobias and Raphael travel together for a while, until Tobias is bathing in a river one day and gets attacked by a huge fish. Raphael instructs Tobias to catch the fish, and after killing it, to save its guts to use as medicine. (It is because of this medicinal fish that Raphael is often depicted carrying a fish.)

Tobias complies, and they continue their journey. As they continue, Tobias meets a young woman named Sarah, and the two quickly fall in love.

But Sarah's family had a secret. Sarah had also prayed for God's intervention, because she had already been married seven times, but each time her new husband died on their wedding night. Those around her were blaming her for their deaths, but it was actually a demon named Asmodeus who was killing her husbands because he was so infatuated with her.

Tobias finds out about Sarah's previous husbands and is afraid to marry her, lest he fall to their fate. But is assured that the fish guts he has brought along, when burned as an incense, will drive out any demons in the area and leave him to safely marry Sarah. He agrees, and does just as he was told, praying that God would protect them both. Asmodeus flees from the smoking fish heart and liver, leaving for the farthest parts of Egypt to get away from the holy medicine.

Raphael chases the demon Asmodeus, fights him, and defeats him, tying him up so that he can plague Sarah no more.

Finally, now happily married, Tobias finishes the journey and retrieves his family wealth. He returns home and his parents are overjoyed at the news! But Tobias has one more gift from Raphael to bestow: he takes the remaining fish guts, makes them into a paste, and smears them on his father's eyes. His blindness was instantly cured.

Finally, Raphael reveals his true nature to Tobit and Tobias. He had been sent by God to answer Tobit's and Sarah's prayers, and they have all been rewarded for their faithfulness. He instructs them to write down everything they had seen and heard, and returns to heaven. Since we have the Book of Tobit, clearly they also followed his final command. 

For many more years, Tobit lived in health and prosperity, finally dying of old age at 112. Tobias and Sarah were even better off, inheriting the lands of both their parents, and Tobias also died of old age, at 117.

Between making medicine from an fish's innards to defeating one of the most powerful demons, Raphael's story in Tobit is pretty cool. 

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