means “God heals.” Other spellings of his name include Rafael, Repha'el, Israfel, Israfil, and Sarafiel.
Raphael is known as the angel of healing
. He’s full of compassion on people who are struggling physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Raphael works to bring people closer to God so they can experience the peace God wants to give them. He’s often associated with joy and laughter. Raphael also works to heal animals and the Earth, so people connect him to animal
care and environmental
efforts. People sometimes ask for Raphael’s help to: heal them (of illnesses or wounds
that are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual in nature), help them overcome addictions, lead them to love, and keep them safe while traveling
Raphael is often depicted in art holding a staff that represents healing or an emblem called a caduceus that features a staff and represents the medical profession. Sometimes Raphael is depicted with a fish (which refers to a scriptural story about how Raphael uses parts of a fish in his healing work), a bowl or a bottle.
Role in Religious Texts:
In the Book of Tobit
, which is part of the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles
, Raphael shows his ability to heal different parts of people’s health, from the physical (restoring the blind man Tobit’s sight) to the spiritual and emotional (driving away a demon
of lust that had been tormenting a woman named Sarah). Verse 3:25 explains that Raphael: “was sent to heal them both, whose prayers at one time were rehearsed in the sight of the Lord.” Rather than accepting thanks for his healing work, Raphael tells Tobias and his father Tobit in verse 12:18 that they should express their gratitude directly to God: “As far as I was concerned, when I was with you, my presence was not by any decision of mine, but by the will of God; he is the one whom you must bless as long as you live, he is the one that you must praise.” Raphael appears in the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish text that is considered canonical by Beta Israel Jews and Christians in the Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. In verse 10:10, God gives Raphael a healing assignment: “Restore the earth, which the [fallen] angels have corrupted; and announce life to it, that I may revive it.” Enoch’s guide says in verse 40:9 that Raphael “presides over every suffering and every affliction” of people on Earth. The Zohar, the religious text of the Jewish mystical branch Kabbalah, says in Genesis chapter 23 that Raphael “is appointed to heal the earth of its evil and affliction and the maladies of mankind.” The Hadith, a collection of the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s traditions, names Raphael (who is called “Israfel” or “Israfil” in Arabic) as the angel who will blow a horn to announce that Judgment Day is coming. Islamic tradition says that Raphael is a master of music who sings
praises to God in heaven in more than 1,000 different languages.
Other Religious Roles:
Christians from denominations such as the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches venerate Raphael as a saint
. He serves as the patron saint
of people in the medical profession (such as doctors and nurses), patients, counselors, pharmacists, love, young people, and travelers.