The panaghiaria were –and still are- used to contain the “Virgin’s share” of the holy bread. They were also used in the ritual of the “Elevation of the Virgin”, which was celebrated in the refectory of coenobitic monasteries and refers to the appearance of the Virgin to the Apostles three days after the Dormition, while they were sharing the holy bread. During this ceremony, the hymns inscribed on both of these panaghiaria were sung.
On the first panaghiarion there is a depiction of the Virgin between two angels venerating her on one half and of the Hospitality of Abraham on the other, a subject common to the decoration of panaghiaria. The second has the Virgin Vlachernitissa and Christ as High Priest. The four scenes have a EucharistIc character, not only because the “Virgin’s share” derives from the "melismos" of the Holy Bread, but also because the refectory’s service follows the liturgy of the Eucharist.
The two elegant panaghiaria must come from the same workshop, though it seems that they were not painted by the same painter. Their style distinctively differs, as the first one is more painterly executed, with faces full of expression, while the second appears linear and conventional in its treatment. On both, the miniature execution has been done skillfully and with bright colours, refined chrysographies and fine shadow and light contrasts, characteristic of Cretan modelling.
Due to their high level of technique and art the works are associated with the circle of Andreas Ritzos and may possibly be connected with an archival source, as in 1499 a monk from Mount Sinai placed an order with the workshop of Nikolaos Ritzos (son of Andreas) for twenty-four icons, including 12 panaghiaria, to be sent to various Monasteries. One of the panaghiaria was destined for the Monastery of Patmos and may well be one of the two on display, making the attribution to the workshop of Nikolaos most probable.