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Saint Raphael the Archangel

On the 24th of the month of the Most Holy Rosary we remember in the Most Sacred Liturgy the Feast of that glorious Archangel Saint Raphael.  We have already celebrated the Feasts of his fellow Archangels: Saint Gabriel (March 24th) and Saint Michael (September 29th) earlier in the Liturgical Year.

The name Raphael means: “God has healed”.  His name appears only in the book of Tobias in the Old Testament.  Thus he is known as the healing angel and it is believed that he is the “angel of the Lord” who is mention in John 5 in connection with the healing Probatica pool in Jerusalem.  This belief is enshrined in the sacred Liturgy as this very Gospel passage from John 5 is that selected by Holy Mother Church for the Mass of today’s feast.  It is interesting to note, however, that in Luke 22:43 the angel that appeared to our Lord during his agony in the garden “strengthening Him” is not believed to be Raphael the healing angel but rather Gabriel.  The reason for this is related by the Jesuit Father Cornelius a Lapide in his magnificent commentary on Sacred Scripture:

“This angel was Gabriel, says Gabriel Vasquez (I. p. tom. ii. disbut. 244, No. 3), for Gabriel has his name from his fortitude, Gabriel being Geber-el the man of God, or Gebura-el the fortitude of God; for he has the office of comforting the weak, afflicted, and fearful. But he comforted Christ not by strengthening His weakness, but by praising His surpassing fortitude. Lud. de Pont. thinks the same in his “Meditation on the Agony of Christ in the Garden,” because Gabriel was the legate and messenger of the œconomy of Christ, as at the Incarnation (Luke i. 26), and of the seventy weeks of Daniel, which foretold the time of the nativity of Christ.”

One of the great blessings of the restoration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite by Pope Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is that we have recovered many beautiful feasts from our patrimony as Roman Catholics that were lost with the introduction of the modern Roman Calendar in 1969.  One of the saddest of these instances was the loss of the Feast days of both Raphael and Gabriel who were reduced to sharing one common feast on what was originally Michaelmas.  Michael’s is the 29th of September and is a 1st class feast with all the pomp of a Solemnity.  Gabriel’s is held on March 24th, which is most fitting since that is the vigil of the Solemnity of the Annunciation where this Archangel takes center stage at the most momentous event in all of human history when the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity took flesh and became man in the womb of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary.  Each of these three Archangels in the Extraordinary form have an entire liturgy of Holy Mass and the Divine Office written for them with special prayers and hymns for each, and below you will find these beautiful hymns for Saint Raphael’s Feast.



Hymns for the Feast of Saint Raphael the Archangel taken from the Divine Office (1962):


Matins (Prayer during the Night)

Christ, of the angels praise and adoration,
Father and Saviour thou, of every nation,
Graciously grant us all to gain a station,
Where Thou art reigning.

Angel Physician, health on man bestowing,
Raphael send us from the skies all glowing,
All sickness curing, wisest counsel showing
In doubt and danger.

May the fair Mother of the Light be o’er us,
Virgin of peace, with all the angel chorus,
And may the heavenly army go before us,
Guiding and guarding.

O May the Godhead, endless bliss possessing,
Father, Son, Spirit, grant to us this blessing;
All His creation joins His praise confessing,
Now and forever. Amen.



Lauds (Prayer at Dawn)

O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
Protect thy servants when they call,
And hear with reconciling care
The blessed Virgin’s holy prayer.

Be ever present, Angel high,
Whose name doth healing signify:
From bodily ills protect us sure,
And keep our souls in health secure.

And ye, O ever blissful throng
Of heavenly spirits, guardians strong,
Our past and present ills dispel,
From future peril shield us well.

From lands wherein thy faithful dwell
Drive far the trait’rous infidel;
So we to Christ due hymns of praise
Henceforth with gladsome hearts we raise.

To God the Father, praise be done,
Who doth redeem us by his Son,
Anoint us by his Holy Ghost,
And guard us by his Angel-host. Amen.



Vespers (Prayer at Dusk)

Christ, of the angels praise and adoration,
Father and Saviour thou, of every nation,
Graciously grant us all to gain a station,
Where Thou art reigning.

Angel Physician, health on man bestowing,
Raphael send us from the skies all glowing,
All sickness curing, wisest counsel showing
In doubt and danger.

May the fair Mother of the Light be o’er us,
Virgin of peace, with all the angel chorus,
And may the heavenly army go before us,
Guiding and guarding.

O May the Godhead, endless bliss possessing,
Father, Son, Spirit, grant to us this blessing;
All His creation joins His praise confessing,
Now and forever.  Amen.



The Liturgical Year

 

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.

 

October 24

 

Saint Raphael

 

Archangel

 

The approach of the great solemnity, which will soon be shedding upon us all the splendours of heaven, seems to inspire the Church with a profound recollection. Except for the homage she must needs pay, on their own date, to the glorious Apostles Simon and Jude, only a few Feasts of simple rite break the silence of these last days of October. Our souls must be in conformity with the dispositions of our common Mother. It will not, however, be out of keeping to give a thought to the great Archangel, honoured today by many particular churches.

 

The ministry fulfilled in our regard by the heavenly spirits is admirably set forth in the graceful scenes depicted in the history of Tobias. Rehearsing the good services of the guide and friend, whom he still called his brother Azarias, the younger Tobias said to his father:  Father, what wages shall we give him? or what can be worthy of his benefits? He conducted me and brought me safe again, he received the money of Gabelus, he caused me to have my wife, and he chased from her the evil spirit, he gave joy to her parents, myself he delivered from being devoured by the fish, thee also he hath made to see the light of heaven, and we are filled with all good things through him. (Tob. 12:2-3)

 

And when father and son endeavoured, after the fashion of men, to return thanks to him who had rendered them such good service, the Angel discovered himself to them, in order to refer their gratitude to their supreme Benefactor.  Bless ye the God of heaven, give glory to him in the sight of all that live, because he hath shewn his mercy to you. . . . . When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead. . . . . I offered thy prayer to the Lord. And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee, And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son’s wife from the devil. For I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord. . . . . Peace be to you, fear not;. . . bless ye him and sing praises to him. (Tob. 12:6-18)

 

We too will celebrate the blessings of heaven. For as surely as Tobias beheld with his bodily eyes the Archangel Raphael, we know by faith that the Angel of the Lord accompanies us from the cradle to the tomb. Let us have the same trustful confidence in him. Then, along the path of life, more beset with perils than the road to the country of the Medes, we shall be in perfect safety; all that happens to us will be for the best, because prepared by our Lord; and, as though we were already in heaven, our around us.

 

We will borrow from the Ambrosian Breviary a hymn in honour of the bright Archangel.

 

Divine doctor, Raphael,

Hymnum benignus suscipe,

Quem nos canendo supplices

Laetis sacramus vocibus.

 

Cursum salutis dirige,

Gressusque nostros promove:

Ne quando aberrant devii,

Coeli relicto tramite.

 

 

Tu nos ab alto respice:

Lucem micantem desuper,

A Patre sancto luminum,

Nostris refundas mentibus.

 

 

Aegris medelam perfice,

Caecisque noctem discute:

Morbos fugando corporum,

Dona vigorem cordibus.

 

 

Astans superno Judici,

Causam perora criminum:

Iramque mulce vindicem,

Fidus rogator Numinis.

 

Magni resumptor praelii,

Hostem superbum deprime:

Contra rebelles spiritus

Da robur, auge gratiam.

 

Deo Patri sit gloria,

Ejusque soli Filio,

Cum Spiritu Paraclito,

Et nunc, et in perpetuum.

Amen.

O Raphael, divinely sent

guide, graciously receive the

hymn we suppliants address

to thee with joyful voice.

 

Make straight for us the

way of salvation, and forward

our steps: lest at any time we

wander astray, and turn from

the path to heaven.

 

Look down upon us from

on high; reflect into our souls

the splendour shining from

above, from the holy Father of lights.

 

Give perfect health to the

sick, dispel the darkness of

the blind: and while driving

away diseases of the body,

give spiritual strength to our souls.

 

Thou who standest before

the Sovereign Judge, plead

for the pardon of our crimes:

and as a trusty advocate appease

the avenging wrath of the Most High.

 

Renewer of the great battle,

crush our proud enemy:

against the rebel spirits give us

strength, and increase our grace.

 

To God the Father be glory,

and to his only Son, together

with the Paraclete Spirit,

now and for evermore.

Amen.

 

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