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rchangels are the highest and most powerful of God's holy angels, and also the fewest. There are only seven, of which only two, Gabriel and Michael, are named in the New Testament. Raphael is less well known, and appears by name only in the Book of Tobit, one of the Deuterocanonical books of Scripture, which are sometimes called the Apocrypha. The other four are even more obscure than Raphael, and apart from Uriel, scholars do not even agree on their names. The apocryphal book of Enoch names Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Remiel, and Saraqael as the seven holy angels who stand before God. However, instead of Raguel, Remiel, and Saraqael, many other names have been given, including Raziel, Sariel, Metatron, Anael, Rahuil, Barakiel, Chamael, Jophiel, Zadkiel, Jeduhiel, Simael, Zaphiel, and Aniel.

The name "Raphael" means "shining one who heals," and according to tradition, his mission has always been one of healing. In Chapter 3 of the Book of Tobit, Raphael is sent by God in response to the prayers of Tobit and Sarah for healing. Tobit had been blinded in an accident, and Sarah was beset by a demon. St. Raphael directed Tobit's son Tobias to burn the liver of a fish to drive out the demon tormenting Sarah. With demon gone, St. Raphael then told Tobias to make a poltice of the fish's gall, which Tobias then applied to his father's eyes, curing his Tobit's blindness.

Apart from the book of Tobit, there is a rich tradition of Christian lore surrounding St. Raphael. Legend holds that the name originally given to him by God was Labbiel, but God changed his name to Raphael after Labbiel sided with God in a dispute with the other archangels over whether to create Mankind. After the Fall of Man, St. Raphael was sent to Earth to heal both Mankind and the Earth in preparation for their eventual reunion with God. Legend also holds that God sent Raphael to Abraham to supervise (and heal) Abraham's circumcision, which the patriarch had neglected to arrange in his younger life.

Among all the archangels, St. Raphael is said to most enjoy the company of men and women. He is said to guard pilgrims on their journeys, and is often depicted holding a staff. He is often depicted holding or standing on a fish, which alludes to his healing of Tobit with the fish's gall.

Kabbalistic tradition names St. Raphael as the angel who rules the Sun, the East, the Air, Wednesday, medicine, science and knowledge. He is represented by the colors orange and light blue.

O God,
who in Thy ineffable goodness
hast rendered blessed Raphael
the conductor of thy faithful in their journeys,
we humbly implore Thee
that we may be conducted by him in the way of salvation,
and experience his help in the maladies of our souls.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.