The poet Longfellow describes Archangel Raphael in The Golden Legend as the Angel of the Sun. Raphael is often portrayed in works of art wearing sandals and holding a pilgrim’s staff.
Archangel Raphael Feast Day October 24.
Evidence of worship of Archangel Raphael is infrequent before the sixteenth century. But by the seventeenth century, masses were often dedicated to him in the Church. He is known as chief of the guardian angels and patron of travelers. This is derived from his role in the Book of Tobit.
The Book of Tobit is included in the Catholic Bible, and is also found in the Apocrypha in the Jewish and Protestant traditions. Scholars believe that Tobit was written in the third century B.C. to encourage the Israelites in the time of their exile. This was a period in Judaism when reverence for angels was increasing.
In the Book of Tobit, God sends Archangel Raphael to alleviate the suffering of a pious Israelite family living in exile. Elizabeth Clare Prophet liked the fifteenth-century painting, Tobias and the Angels by Botticini, which she put on the cover of the little Angels booklet of the science of the spoken Word booklet.
Put your Hand in the Hand of an Angel
“What is quaint about it to me is that these angels, walking and talking on the road with Tobias are as nonchalant as people walking down the street in Chicago. “Here’s Tobias holding the hand of Archangel Raphael, not in the least bit intimidated that he’s walking with an angel. And there is Archangel Gabriel, to Tobias’ left, and Archangel Michael on the right. And they’re all happily going along the road, having a good time.
“I decided that would be the best image to give you of angels so that you could also be quite nonchalant about angels and recognize that they’ve always been with you. “So if you can be relaxed and feel that you can put your hand in the hand of an angel and walk down the street and tell him all your troubles and pour out your heart to him, that will make me very happy because that is exactly the way God intended it.”
- Elizabeth Clare Prophet
Elizabeth Clare Prophet on The Book of Tobit
Elizabeth Clare Prophet paraphrased the story of Tobias and Archangel Raphael from The Book of Tobit, a story of the young man Tobias and his blind father, Tobit.
Tobit sends Tobias to recover a deposit of money in a far city. Raphael, disguised as a knowledgeable traveler, offers to be his guide. Accompanied by Tobias’s dog, they set off together on their journey.
On their first night’s stop, when Tobias goes to the river to wash, he is attacked by a fish. Raphael tells him to catch the fish and remove its gall, heart and liver. Tobias carries all this with him for the rest of the 325-mile journey to the capital of Media, east of Assyria.
Imagine this. Along the way, Archangel Raphael tells him that his next of kin, Sarah, whom he is to meet in the city, is to be his bride. However, Tobias protests because Sarah’s seven previous husbands have all perished on their wedding night at the hand of the demon Asmodeus! But Raphael gives Tobias a formula that he promises will exorcise Sarah’s demon.
“When you enter the bridal chamber,” Raphael says, “take some of the fish’s liver and heart, and put them on the embers of the incense. The reek will rise, the demon will smell it and flee, and there is no danger that he will ever be found near the girl again.”
The courageous Tobias marries Sarah, enters the wedding chamber armed with the heart and liver of the fish, and follows Raphael’s instructions. Meanwhile, Sarah’s father digs a grave for his son-in-law. But, as the angel prophesies, the reek of the fish sends the demon fleeing through the air to Egypt. Raphael chases the demon, shackles him, and strangles him.
Sarah’s parents, elated that he has survived the family curse, give the new couple half of all their belongings and treat them to an extended wedding feast. While he is celebrating, Tobias sends Raphael to retrieve Tobit’s money. After fourteen days of feasting, the newlyweds and Raphael set off for Tobit’s house. On the way, Raphael suggests that he and Tobias travel home ahead of the bridal party to relieve his parents, who are concerned that something bad has happened to him. He then promises Tobias that his father will be able to see again.
Raphael instructs him, “You must put the fish’s gall to your father’s eyes. The medicine will smart and will draw a filmy white skin off his eyes. And your father will no longer be blind, but will be able to see the light.”
As soon as he arrives home, Tobias applies the fishy paste to his father’s eyes. He peels off the filmy skin and his father exclaims, “I see you, my son—the light of my eyes!” In gratitude, Tobias offers half of all his new possessions to Raphael. Raphael refuses and then announces to Tobias and his father,
“I was sent to test your faith, and at the same time God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of the Lord. Bless God forevermore.
“When I was with you, I was not acting on my own will, but by the will of God. Bless him each and every day. Sing his praises. I am ascending to him who sent me. Write down all these things that have happened to you.”
Elizabeth Clare Prophet quipped, “The moral of the story is: Don’t take a trip without taking Raphael with you!”