Bishop Paul was born as Peter Popov in 1813 in the Yeniseysk province of Russia, where his father was a priest. In July 1834, he completed studies at the Irkutsk Seminary, was ordained a priest on October 7 of that year and assigned to the church at a factory in Nerchinsk. He was transferred to the cathedral in the city of Krasnoyarsk in 1837. On December 6, 1858, he was elevated to the rank of archpriest. On March 2, 1860, he received monastic tonsure and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. He was consecrated to the episcopacy on March 6, 1860 as the first bishop of the newly established auxiliary see of Yakutsk within the Diocese of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands.
On Nov. 9, 1866, he was transferred to the see of Novoarkhangelsk (Sitka), while remaining an auxiliary of the Kamchatka Diocese. It was during his episcopal tenure in Sitka that Alaska became a US territory. This resulted in some turmoil for the Alaskan Mission as many Russians departed and American missionaries of various confessions arrived. These factors, in part, led to the establishment of the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska, and the subsequent transfer of its see to San Francisco in 1872.
On June 10, 1870, Bishop Paul was assigned ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Yeniseysk and Krasnoyarsk. On his way back to Russia, Bishop Paul consecrated the first Orthodox Church in New York City in November 1870. On March 13, 1873, he was named Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile Islands and Blagoveshchensk. Bishop Paul reposed in the Lord on May 25, 1877 in the city of Blagoveshchensk.
St. Nicholas (Kasatkin), Enlightener of Japan wrote about him: “Bishop Paul labored much in the missionary field. He frequently traveled throughout the dioceses where he served and even visited Japan, where he assigned the first Orthodox priests and deacons (the Japanese mission was under his direction). The Right Reverend Paul was straightforward, humble, accessible to all, ready to receive anyone, to listen, and at the same time, precise, diligent, pious, prayerful and very selfless…living only for others.”