Christian tradition links the monastery to Lot, nephew of Abraham, who planted and tended what would become the tree that furnished the wood for the cross of Jesus, as shown in this painting. According to the legend, the monastery was erected on the spot where the tree grew, and until the 15th century pilgrims could look behind the altar of the church to see the remnants of the trunk. By the 11th century the monastery had come to be supported by the predominantly Orthodox nation of Georgia, an ascendant power in the Transcaucasus in the 12th and 13th centuries, which provided the compound with many of its inhabitants, as well as numerous rich gifts of art.