Saint Neomadie of Poitou, otherwise known as Noemoise or Neomoye, patron saint of shepherdesses, is portrayed with the foot of a goose. This is because, pursued by suitors, she prayed to God to make her deformed – and God heeded her prayer.
Threat, deformity and miracles are common themes in the lives of female saints. Saint Agnes was mutilated for refusing a suitor and St Lucy, according to one version of her legend, was blinded (or blinded herself) for the same defence of her faith and her honour. Saint Frideswide hid in a pigsty to escape her pursuer. Like Frideswide, and like Saint Osyth, beheaded by pagan marauders, Saint Neomadie caused a miraculous spring to arise.
Saint Neomadie is also linked to the figure of la reine pedauque, associated with the Queen of Sheba or with a Visigoth queen in Toulouse. The Merovingian Saint Enimie, like other female saints, was afflicted by leprosy in order to avoid matrimony. She also fought a dragon:
Lastly, Bertha Broadfoot, Bertrada de Laon, Queen of the Franks, the beloved mother of Charlemagne, had either a goose’s foot or a clubfoot. And those of us of ‘European’ descent have her as one of our millions of ancestresses. How nice.