St. Colomba

The realtor will tell you it is “location, location, location” that matters, but Colomba shows a different way. From a remote and desolate island where he was in exile from his home in Ireland, he became the Apostles to the Scots. He had gotten into trouble in his native land causing a war over a book of Psalms where many of his fellow monks died. In shame, he was sent away to a God-forsaken place to live out the rest of his days. But Colomba bloomed where he was planted and discovered that no where in creation is actually God-forsaken.

He grew in his faith and pretty soon, had many disciples around him. The tiny Island of Iona became a hub of Celtic Christianity. It was a school where many books where written and copied, most-likely including the Book of Kells. It also was a launching point for missions into Scotand, Ireland, England, and even the continent. There they developed a very different understanding of pilgrimage.

Instead of visiting holy places they took journeys wherever the winds of the Spirit would lead them. These peregrinations were primarily inward journeys that made them at home anywhere in the world, because their home was in God.  

We are preparing a Scotch Pie to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Colomba on June 9th. A Scotch Pie is a rich and savory dish that Geoffrey fell in love with while making pilgrimage to Iona. It is a small hand pie that is filled with lamb or sometimes haggis.  Ours is filed with ground lamb, but you can also use ground beef. The outside is a delicious hot water crust pastry. 

This is the kind of meal that you can get at a football game, street vendor, or at a quick stop gas station. It is meant to be eaten on the go-without a need for utensils. It is the prefect dish to take with you as you peregrinate through life.     

Mosaic of Saint Columba in St Aloysius’ Church in Glasgow, Scotland.

Scotch Pies


1 lb 5oz ground lamb or beef
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 tbsp beef gravy
salt and pepper (for seasoning)

5 1/2 fluid oz water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (120g) lard
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk, beaten, for glaze

Parchment paper
Cooking String


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F  and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Cut four strips of parchment paper, about 2 inches by 10 inches long, to wrap around the pies. Cut four pieces of cooking string long enough to secure the paper.
  2. Make the meat filling by mixing the 1lb 5oz ground lamb or beef, ¼ tsp ground mace, ¼ tsp nutmeg, 5 tbsp beef gravy and season generously with salt and pepper. Work the liquid into the meat Divide the mixture into four portions and shape into balls. Refrigerate while you make the pastry.
  3. To make the pastry, heat 5 ½ fl oz of water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon lard in a saucepan until just boiling. Place the 3 cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot liquid onto the flour and mix together with a spoon. Once cool enough to handle knead until you have a smooth dough.
  4. Working quickly (the dough will be harder to work with the longer you take), cut off a quarter of the pastry and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into four equally sized balls. Roll out each ball to a 7 inch circle. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out four circular lids 4 inches in diameter. 
  5. Place a ball of filling on each large circle of pastry. Gather the pastry around the meat and bring up the sides to form the shape of a pork pie. Dampen the edges of the pies with water and press the lids on top of the filling. Seal the edges together using your fingers. Wrap a strip of greaseproof paper around each pie and secure with string.
  6. Put the pies on the baking tray and cut a steam hole in the centre of each. Brush with beaten egg yolk and transfer to the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden-brown.