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Archangel Raphael

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Archangel Raphael with Tobias in a painting by Francesco Botticini
Archangel Raphael with Tobias in a painting by Francesco Botticini

Raphael is recognized as an Archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions and is one of only a few Jewish Archangels who has been made a saint in the Catholic church. As Saint Raphael the Archangel, he is the patron saint of doctors, nurses, and fishermen. He is also petitioned by those who wish to meet their future wife or husband. In the Catholic Church, the Feast Day for all Archangels is celebrated on September 29th.

Raphael's name is not mentioned in the Bible, but he appears in several books of Jewish apocrypha. The story of Raphael is told in The Book of Tobit, which concerns the adventures of Tobit's son, Tobias (also spelled Tobiah), who is sent by his blind father to collect a sum of money that his father had previously loaned to a distant kinsman in the far off land of Media. Raphael represents himself as Tobit's kinsman Azariah, and offers to aid and protect Tobias on his journey. Under the guidance of Raphael, Tobias makes the trek to Media, accompanied by his dog. Along the way, Raphael teaches Tobias to catch a fish and to prepare medicine from its gall and a magical incense from its heart and liver. At the climax of their journey, Raphael helps Tobias meet the young woman he is to marry and to use the magical incense to deliver her from a demon hat has brought death to her first seven husbands on their wedding nights, and on the return home, the fish-gall medicine Raphael has made is used to cure Tobit of his blindness.

Raphael is usually shown with the young Tobias as they venture on their travels together. Sometimes he is depicted holding a large fish, which he is offering to Tobias, and sometimes the two are seen walking in the countryside with Tobias' faithful dog, as Raphael holds the packet of medicine which will eventually be used to cure Tobit. Hoodoo root doctors and Spiritualist practitioners may keep a statue of Raphael on an altar where work is being performed for the clients in need of healing.

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