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Date of St. Raphael's Feast

Some confusion has come up, on occassion, with regards to when the feast of St. Raphael is to be celebrated and why.

The Orthodox Church in America has set his feast for their parishes at February 27th. This is the anniversary of St. Raphael's repose. The anniversary of a saint's repose has probably been the most common date chosen for their main commemoration in the history of the Orthodox Church.

Questions have arisen as to why the Antiochian Archdiocese would choose the first Saturday in November as its feast of St. Raphael. I put the question to a senior member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, who was kind enough to give the following response:

Since the date of St Raphael's repose (February 27) will always fall during the Triodion period, it was thought to be wiser to investigate other traditions concerning the assignment of a major commemoration of a Saint. These other traditions include the date of the translation of a Saint's relics (in St Raphael's case that is August 15), the date of his glorification (May 29 - which often falls during the Paschal season), the date of his own Name's Day (in St Raphael's case that is November 8), etc. In order that the feast of St Raphael would not have to be "shared" (liturgically) with other commemorations, both August 15 and May 29 were taken out of consideration (August 15 being preceded by a Fast period and the Transfiguration which has its own festal season, and which is followed by a festal period; and the second which could have any number of possibilities of coincidences with Pentecostarion commemorations)! Therefore, we opted for a day connected with his Name's Day. However, the Synaxis of the Archangels (November 8) is a Vigil Rank feast so if we made the commemoration of St Raphael coincident with it, St Raphael's feast would always be overshadowed by it. And since the day following (November 9) is the commemoration of St Nektarios of Vigil Rank, that day would be inappropriate as well. Therefore the Saturday before the Synaxis (effectively the first Saturday in November) was chosen for these reasons:

1 - A Saturday celebration would allow for participation by a maximum number of the faithful (St John of San Francisco's major commemoration is also on a Saturday for that reason);

2 - It is in proximity to his Name's Day (which is also his earthly birthday); and

3 - Of all the Saints whose commemorations fall on November 1 through 7 (the only possible dates for the Saturday before the Synaxis) none are of Vigil Rank, meaning that the feast of St Raphael (which is of Vigil Rank) would never be overshadowed by another commemoration and would, therefore, always be fully celebrated.