Until recently I had never heard of the Bread of the Panagia.
About a month ago I acquired the book A Son of the Church
a book of Orthodox instruction to an adult convert to Russian Orthodoxy written in the 17th Century. It has been a favorite read of the Old Believers as the instruction is according to the Russian Old Rite. There is a short story in the back of the book about the bread of the Panagia which I will include below as I have never seen it on the internet anywhere else in English. I hope that you take it to heart. This service can be an honorable tradition in the home of laity. I performed this service when my infant so was very sick a few weeks ago and his fever broke, thanks be to the Holy Trinity and the Mother of God! At the link below you will find more information about what the service of the Lifting of the Panagia is, where it comes from, how it is served in monasteries/churches, etc. http://www.prosphora.org/page41.htmlA Wonderful Story About the Elevation of the Bread of the Most Holy Mother of God.
A certain man told this story: It happened that a certain Jew was once traveling with some Italians. It so happened that when evening had come, he took a rest from his journey. Night fell, and they all went to sleep. The Jew went off a little way from the others, found himself a place to rest, and he also fell asleep. Late at night, while they were all sleeping, there suddenly came clouds, thunder and lightning, most exceedingly fierce and frightful. The Italians cried out in great fear: Lord have Mercy! The Jew watched as heavy rain streamed down like a river, and lightning reached from the sky right to the ground. When this happened, it hit those Italians and burned them up, and they died. When the Jew saw this, he despaired of his own life. On account of his great need he decided in his mind to do something, and he got up. As it happened, he had no bread. And so, he took a little stone, weighing about three ekragia, and he lifted it up with both hands, and said: Great is the name – and he himself continued – of the Holy Trinity. Then he said: Most Holy Theotokos, help me, and he made the sign of the Cross, holding both hands together, as is the custom among Orthodox Christians, who elevate a small portion of bread in the name of the most holy Mother of God, whenever someone wishes to do this. While the Jew was doing this, he saw lightning overhead, which coursed about him on the ground all around, and no sooner than you could speak it scorched the very dust of the earth. Yet the Jew remained unharmed. The Jew elevated the rock not once, but many times, repeating the same words: Great is the name, etc. As he did so, the lightning stopped, and so did the thunder and the rain. When daybreak came, the Jew saw that the Italians had been burnt up by the heat of the lightning and were dead. He went to the nearest town and began to shout: Great is the faith of the Greeks and of all Orthodox Christians! He went to the chief Church of that town, and made his confession to the bishop, telling him all these things. He was baptized, along with his whole household. People asked him, How did you think of elevating the rock in the name of the most holy Mother of God? He replied: It once happened that I was sailing in a ship with some Christians. A deadly storm came up at sea, so that we were about to perish. Those Christians then elevated the bread and performed the rite of the Panagia, according to their custom, and the storm died down, and we were saved. I saw and heard all that they did, and remembered it. Indeed, I even asked them mockingly, What if some day you were on a journey and could not find some bread? What would you do in such circumstances? They answered me by saying: In case of necessity, if bread is not to be found, some grains of cereal from porridge are suitable, or from vegetables. If even this cannot be had, then a little stone could be used. Let a man only take it with firm faith, lift it up and glorify the Holy Trinity and the name of the most holy Theotokos, and then hold this rock on his neck for help: afterwards, let him cast it into the sea or into some deep river. Wretch that I was, when I heard this, I made fun of them, because I had not yet seen the light. Now, when I was in involuntary distress, I tested God and the most holy Theotokos, the Mother of the Light. From the miracle that happened to me, unworthy as I am, I understood that the Christian faith of the Orthodox is great and true. To our God be glory, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.