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(Or Poor Infirmarians)
A small congregation of men, who professed the Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, founded by Bernardino Obregón (b. 5 May, 1540, at Las Huelgas near Burgos, Spain; d. 6 Aug., 1599). Of a noble family Obregon was an officer in the Spanish army, but retired and dedicated himself to the service of the sick in the hospitals of Madrid. Others became associated with him in hospital service and in 1567 by consent of the papal nuncio at Madrid the new congregation was founded. To the three ordinary vows were added that of free hospitality. The congregation did not found hospitals but served in those already existing. It spread in Spain and its dependencies, in Belgium and the Indies. Obregon went to Lisbon, 1592, and there founded an asylum for orphan boys; returning to Spain he assisted King Philip II in his last illness (1598). Paul V, 1609, allowed the Obregonians to wear over the grey habit of the Third Order of St. Francis a black cross on the left side of the breast to distinguish them from similar congregations. Since the French Revolution they have entirely disappeared.