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Events commemorate birth of Robert E. Lee

RICHMOND, Va. - History buffs and Confederate enthusiasts are marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Southern icon many still revere as a brilliant military strategist and a Virginia gentleman nearly 150 years after the Civil War.

Several events are planned through the weekend at key Lee sites, including Washington & Lee University, Lee's birthplace at Stratford Hall Plantation, and in Richmond, the former Confederate capital.

Stratford Hall will feature a special "Lee pilgrimage" and a historic interpreter portraying Lee's decision to resign from the U.S. Army upon the secession of Virginia from the Union. Cannon artillery salutes will be held, and visitors can take candlelight tours of the Lee family's home. "Lee for Children" tours will allow youngsters to hunt for key items that figured into Lee's childhood, and there will be an opportunity to have photos taken with "General Lee."

The Museum of the Confederacy is showcasing a painting of Lee that was last displayed publicly in 1868 in Paris. The gilt-framed oil painting is on loan from a Richmond-area man who purchased it at an estate sale, and more than 200 prints have been sold over the past few weeks to help the struggling museum erase its deficit.

Retired priest faces embezzlement charge

LOUISA, VA. - A retired Roman Catholic priest suspected of living a double life as a family man appeared in court Thursday to face accusations that he embezzled thousands from two parishes.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis, 50, did not enter a plea.

The Rev. Rodis was indicted Jan. 8 on one count of felony embezzlement. He had been pastor at St. Jude in Mineral and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass between 1993 and May 2006.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has said the Rev. Rodis embezzled $600,000 from his two parishes, but a state police investigator said the sum could top $1 million.

- Edited from wire reports


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