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October 24 Feast of St. Raphael the Archangel

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

by Gordon Nary

Raphael is one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible, the others being Gabriel and Michael. Raphael performs all manner of healing in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Hebrew word for a doctor of medicine is Rophe from the same root word as Raphael. In Islam, Raphael is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day by blowing a horn and sending out a "Blast of Truth". In the Roman Catholic Church, Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, young people, blindness, and druggists.

The only scriptural information about Raphael is in the book of Tobias (Tobit) where Raphael, in the disguise of a handsome teenager named Azarias accompanied the younger Tobias on a journey to Media to collect some money lent by Tobias's father. Not only did Raphael protect Tobias during the trip and help him collect the money, but also saved him from being eaten by some unspecified fish, and the binding of the demon in the desert of upper Egypt.

Tobias said that Raphael facilitated his marriage to him to Sarah and that he gave joy to Sarah's parents for driving out the evil spirit in her. He also gave Raphael credit for curing his father's blindness. After their return from their journey, Azarias makes himself known as the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" .Raphael became known as the patron of the sick because of a medieval legend in which Raphael appeared to a holy hermit when a plague was sweeping central Europe.

Raphael told the hermit that a new herb, recently introduced by the Vikings to that area, would cure the plague. The roots of herb were boiled to make a tea which eventually cured thousands. The herb became known as angelica and its official botanical classification became angelica archangelica. The legends of angelica's miraculous powers persist. In 1974 French newspapers reported the death of Annibal CaIroux of Marseilles, who chewed angelica root daily and died at age 121.

While angelica roots are still used as a medicine, one variety, garden angelica, is primarily cultivated for its stalk which is used as an ingredient of the principal flavorings in Chartreuse and Benedictine. The stalk is also candied as used as a cake flavoring. Candied angelica is very expensive and occasionally some unscrupulous manufacturers will sell a green-dyed turnip or other vegetable as a substitute However, the substitutes do not resemble angelica' s subtle taste and the dye will run in the batter during baking.

Gateau St. Raphael


6 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup flour 1 tsp vanilla 2 cups hot milk 3/4 cup flour 2 TB butter 1/4 cup angelica, chopped fine 2TB yellow Chartreuse powdered sugar 4 eggs, separated


  1. Beat egg yolks in a 3-quart saucepan for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating for 3 minutes or until mixture is lemon colored and forms a ribbon when beaters or whisk is lifted out.

  2. Beat in 1/2 cup flour a little at a time. Then beat in milk a little at a time. Bring mixture to a low boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and beat in butter. Stir in Chartreuse.

  3. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill in refrigerator at least 6 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 400º F. Butter sides and bottom of a 15"x10" jellyroll pan. Line pan with wax paper and butter top of paper .

  5. Beat 4 egg yolks for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar and continue beating until mixture is lemon colored and forms a ribbon when the beaters or whisk is lifted out.

  6. Beat egg whites until and salt in a separate bowl until stiff. Beat in vanilla. Pour yolk mixture over egg whites and fold in gently. Sprinkle mixture with flour and angelica and fold in gently. Pour batter into jellyroll pan and spread evenly with a spatula.

  7. Bake cake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle powdered sugar over a muslin or "flour sack" towel and turn out cake on powdered towel Cool for 4 hours.

  8. Remove waxed paper from cake.. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and chill 4 hours before serving.

© 2012 Gordon Nary

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