St. Raphael and Tobias

Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
The story of how the Archangel Raphael helped a young man named Tobias is found in the Old Testament Book of Tobit. When Tobias is sent by his blind father to a distant land to collect a debt, the archangel appears in the guise of an older companion and guide. At one point he helps Tobias catch a large fish with curative properties. When they reach their destination and Tobias falls in love with a young woman troubled by an evil spirit, Raphael teaches him how to drive the spirit away so that the two can marry. When they return home, the archangel prepares a salve from parts of the fish and heals Tobias’ blind father. Tobias’ dog follows the two travelers throughout their journey.

Based on this story, St. Raphael has long been considered the patron saint of healers, travelers, and fishermen. His traditional color is blue. In this icon he is shown as an older man, and both he and Tobias wear travelers’ garb from the deserts of the Middle East. The story is set in what is now Iraq.

Raphael’s feast day is October 24.


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