The Templeton Prize for affirming "life's spiritual dimension" has been awarded to Jean Vanier, the visionary founder of a network of communities in which people with disabilities live in solidarity and community with non-disabled people.

The 86-year-old Vanier started his work by welcoming two intellectually disabled men into his home in France in 1964.

Working on the premise that the weak enable the strong to see their own vulnerabilities, Vanier expanded the concept into 147 residential communities in 35 countries.

Vanier said Wednesday his goal was creating places "where those caught up in the world of success and normality and those who are in need ... come together."

The prize is valued at 1.1 million pounds ($1.7 million).