From early Christian tradition, in which it is the name of one of the archangels (see also Gabriel and Michael). It is composed of Hebrew vocabulary elements meaning ‘to heal’ and ‘God’. Raphael is not named in the canonical text of the Bible, but plays a part in the apocryphal tale of Tobias. The shorter form Rapha ‘he (God) heals’ (compare Nathaniel and Nathan) is borne by several characters in the Old Testament. The name has always been much more common in southern Europe than in Britain, and use in the English-speaking world today generally reflects southern European influence. It has also become a popular modern Hebrew name.