Ivan Popov was born in the Siberian district of Irkutsk. There were too many Popov's and Ivan was given the honor of receiving the name Veniaminov. He became an ordained minister and went to Alaska. There he studied the Aleut langaguage , built a church in Unalaska, and opened a bilingual (Russian and Aleut) school. From 1834-1838 he was assigned to Sitka. During one of his many travel, he learned of his wife's death. After her death, he agreed to become a monk, and was elevated to Bishop of Kamchatk, the Kuriles, and Aleutian Islands.
He continued to teach, build, and travel, designing St. Micheal's Cathedral in Sitka, which was consecrated in 1848. He was elevated to Archbishop and took the name of Innocent, and transferred to Yakutsk in 1850, where he translated scripture into the Yakut language. In 1868, the year following sale of Alaska to the United States. Archbishop Innocent was appointed Metropolitan of Moscow, the highest position in the Russian Orthodox Church, where he served until his death in 1879.