Platon, Bishop of Estonia

​Kulbuš (Kuhlbusch), Paul

25 July 1869 Pärnumaa – 14 January 1919 Tartu

An Orthodox priest who was killed by the Bolsheviks; the first Orthodox saint of Estonian origin

Kulbuš graduated in 1890 from the Riga Theological seminary and in 1894 from St Petersburg Theological Academy (with a master’s degree in theology). He served in the St Issidor Estonian Orthodox church in St Petersburg. On his initiative an Estonian Orthodox parish school was opened in 1896; in 1898 the Society of Brethren of the Estonian Orthodox Priest Martyr Issidor was founded. As the latter’s secretary, Kulbuš organised the building of the church and congregation house for the Estonians (1903). In 1900 he became the dean of the Estonian Orthodox congregations of St Petersburg metropolis, and in 1905 an archpriest. From 1912 he was an active member in the St Petersburg society which tried to bring closer the Anglican and Orthodox churches, and as such he was often despatched to England by the Synod.

At the plenary of Riga bishopric in August 1917 he was elected bishop by the Orthodox Estonians. In December the same year he was inaugurated as Bishop of Tallinn.

Kulbuš fully supported Estonian independence, sending letters of protest to the archbishop of Canterbury via London-based Ants Piip during the German occupation (1918). He also participated in the Estonian Provincial Assembly. On 2 January 1919 he was arrested in Tartu, and on 14 January he was executed by the Bolsheviks.

Kulbuš was canonised as a martyr priest by the Russian Orthodox Church in exile in 1982 and by the Constantinople patriarchate in 2000.


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