The Feast of the Archangel Raphael
One of the most important miracles of Saint Raphael is commemorated on the third day of Pagumen. The miracle is related to a Church dedicated to the archangel and is said to have been constructed on an island outside the city of Alexandria in Egypt. It is said that the church was threatened to be demolished by a whale and started shaking whilst the believers were praying inside the church. It was later saved miraculously by the Archangel Raphael.
The story described in the Book of Tobit, an Old Testament scripture, states that Saint Raphael was revealed to a man named Tobia who had a blind father called Tobit. The archangel instructed Tobia to fish in the River of Tigris and the heart and liver of a fish is said to have been served to Tobit, and that cured his eyes. According to the same story, a woman named Sarah (not the wife of Abraham) was married to seven husbands one after another, but all died on the first night of the marriage.
Saint Raphael intervened and told Tobia to marry Sarah. He miraculously exorcised the evil spirit and Tobia was spared the fate of Sarah’s previous husbands. St. Raphael is also believed to have been empowered by God to intervene for fruitful marriage, fertility and to reduce the labor during childbirth. He is also said to have performed a number of miracles on this day (Pagumen
3). that’s why the day is celebrated with special vivacity in the churches dedicated to the Archangel.
Pagumen 3 is also called Rehiwe Semay2 literally meaning ‘The opening of heaven’. It is believed that on this day the prayers of believers reach before God in a special manner, and hence the term Rehiwe Semay. The rain that falls on this day is also considered Holy; it is believed that it blesses Christians and protects them from infirmity and bad fortune. On this day, we see children rinsing in the rain to receive blessing. Women add drops of the sacred rainwater to their dough to have their Injera and bread blessed.
May Archangel Raphael’s Intercession be with us, Amen!