The grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France is famous the world over as a pilgrimage site. Bell Island, Newfoundland has its own version, known as the Sacred Heart Grotto. The simple site, located at Lance Cove, consists of 12 white statues arranged in a crescent, representing the 12 Stations of the Cross. Nearby is an abandoned church and an eerie, well-preserved 200-year-old graveyard overlooking the sea.
Bell Island is part of the Avalon Peninsula, located in Conception Bay across “The Tickle”—the bay—from Portugal Cove, just outside the capital, St. John’s. A thriving community of 15,000 people when the iron ore mine was in operation, it was one of the most prosperous communities in the province, and people settled there because of the opportunity for employment. However, after the mine closed in 1966, the population was decimated and dropped to less than 3,000.
Bell Island is tiny, but it makes up for in legend what it lacks in size. A place known for stunning natural beauty, the island also brims with folklore. In fact, many psychics claim that Bell Island is the most haunted island in North America, and some have called it “Canada’s X-File Island.”
Talking to local residents, visiting the Bell Island Mine Museum, and going on a Haunted Walking Tour, you can hear stories of the island’s colorful past—of pirates, gunships, and miners, and also of ghosts, demons, angry spirits, and even shape-shifters. And while no one, as yet, has claimed to see any visions at the Bell Island grotto, it may just be a matter of time.