Obregonians (Poor Infirmarians)

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The popular title of the Least Brothers (Hermanos Minimos ), founded at Madrid in 1568 by Bernardino Obregón; b. near Burgos, Spain, May 20, 1540; d. Madrid, Aug. 6, 1599. Obregón, a young man of noble lineage who had begun his ecclesiastical studies, discontinued them to become an officer in the army of Philip II. Having served in several campaigns, he found himself one day at court, where a sweeper accidentally splattered his uniform with mud. Obregón angrily slapped the humble worker, who instead of retaliating, begged pardon. Heartily impressed, Obregón gave up his military career and began to nurse the sick. Soon he and some companions took over the administration of the general hospital of Madrid and spread their work to Portugal, Belgium, and the colonies. In 1594 Obregón reedited the Constitutions they had been following, and four years later his group was permitted to take the vows of religion according to the rule of the Third Order of St. Françis of Paola, adding a fourth vow of free hospitality. Paul V authorized the Hermanos Minimos in 1609 to wear a gray habit having a black cross on the left side as monogram. In 1592 Obregón founded an asylum for poor children in Lisbon. He also wrote an early manual on the care of the sick, Instrucción de enfermos y verdadera practica de como se han de aplicar los remedios que enseñan los medicos (Madrid 1607). In 1589 Obregón assisted at the deathbed of his former commander, Philip II. The Order of Hermanos Minimos disintegrated during the French Revolution.

Bibliography: Enciclopedia universal illustrada Europeo-Americana (Barcelona 190830, suppl. 1934) 39:408409.

[m. p. trauth]