The monastery was first constructed in the sixth century. Several traditions concerning its foundation exist. According to one tradition, the land on which the monastery was built was gifted to the Iberian king Mirian by the emperor Constantine the Great in the fourth century. According to a second tradition, it was the empress Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great who laid the foundations for the monastery.
The sixth century monastery apparently was destroyed in 614 CE during the Persian invasion, after which it was rebuilt and occupied until the Fatimid period, when it was destroyed by the Sultan el-Hakim in the early eleventh century. Sometime later, the monastery was rebuilt by the Georgian Orthodox church under whom the monastery thrived until the 17th century, when it faced financial and other difficulties. In the 18th century the Georgian church was forced to pass the monastery into the hands of the Greek Orthodox church who own it to the present day. A theological seminary opened in 1855 and the monastery was enlarged to serve as a hostel for pilgrims as well. In the present day, an abbot with a small number of lay people reside in the monastery and maintain it.
State of certainty: