St.George's Forane Church, Aruvithura belonging to the Syro-Malabar Rite in the diocese of Palai, is situated on the left bank of the river Meenachil. A beacon of the nineteen century old Christian faith, the church stands on a picture square spot, about 25 miles due east to Kottayam. The ancient name of the place was Irapuzhai or Irapeli. Irapeli had a vigorous trade with the Tamil countries lying beyond the Western Ghats. The Tamil traders according to their vernacular idioms dubbed the place Aruvithura, as there was a big water fall close to the town. As it is traditionally believed, St.Thomas, the apostle of India, who preached the Christian faith in the important and popular villages of Malabar at the dawn of Christianity also visited Irapeli. The local tradition is that St.Thomas founded seven churches and a half in Malabar and that the church of Irapeli is the half church.
The first edifice of the church at Irapeli was of granite stone after the manner of Hindu temples. It was rebuilt once or twice before the 16th century as it is reported. Towards the beginning of the 16th century a new church was built under the direction of priest Mathew of Kallarackal belonging to the parish. This 16th century church was demolished in 1951 preserving the Sanctuary with its Valuting within the right - transept of the newly built Cruciform church to enshrine the miraculous statue of St.George, its second patron. A cruciform magnifient church in Gothic style, liturgically facing to the west has been completed in 1952.
The church of Irapeli having apostolic origin, was first dedicated to the Virgin mother, assumed into heaven. In the 14th century when the church of Nilackal or Chayal, one of those churches founded by St.Thomas was destroyed, several families migrated to Irapeli .They carried with them a statue of St.George .Ever since the advent of the statue, the people began to have unflinching faith in the saint and he has been particularly beneficial in bestowing favours on his clients. Because of the numerous favours obtained through the intercession of the saint, the 16th century church was dedicated to him and his statue was placed in the central niche above the main alter. And in this way St.Mary’s church Irapeli became known as St.George’s Church Irapeli (Later Aruvithura).
Out of their great veneration and affection towards the saint, the people call him by the popular affectionate term “Valyachan”.(Grand Uncle or Grand Papa). Friday which is believed to be the day on which the saint suffered martyrdom, is observed as a special day of devotion. So, the votive masses in honour of the saint is generally turned “Friday Mass”. In accordance with the tradition of the Syrian Church that was prevalent at Irepeli prior to the 17 th century the feast of St.George is still celebrated on April 24 th.