Drawing on a variety of different sources, the article examines the various aims and strategies promoted by the Catholic world in the city of Taranto before and after the building of what became Italy’s fourth full-cycle steel industry center (1956-1964). The establishment of the plant in Taranto and the beginning of the State-led process of industrialization in the Italian South represented an important phase for Catholic forces in the area and beyond. They were forced to face a new social and economic challenge and provide immediate and convincing answers to complex problems which were about to radically transform the area. The steel plant was planned in 1955 and received the government’s authorization on June 9, 1959. Its establishment, which was strongly supported by the Christian-Democratic governments at the time as a way of assuring the economic development of the South, strongly affected the social and economic relations of Taranto society.
Keywords: Southern Italy, Catholics, Industrialisation