They were founded by Bernardino de Obregón (born 5 May 1540, at Las Huelgas near Burgos, Spain; died 6 August 1599). Of a noble family, Obregón 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, a new congregation was founded. To the three ordinary religious vows was 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.
Pope Paul V in 1609 allowed the Obregonians to wear a black cross on the left side of the breast over the grey religious habit of the Third Order of St. Francis, to distinguish them from similar congregations.
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