Pope Francis surprised the media when he was driven to a meeting in a humble Ford Focus with no motorcade, security escort or flashing lights.

Photographers were caught by surprise when the Pope, who has gone on record as recommending humility, arrived at the Jesuit-run Astalli Centre for refugees in central Rome with none of the usual pontifical pomp.

From the opened back-seat window Francis waved to the crowd before stepping out of the car escorted only by the Vatican's Inspector General, Domenico Giani.

The Pope was met by 30 refugees, mostly African, to hear their stories of suffering and escape.

"Many among you are Muslims or of other religions," the Pope told them. "You come from different countries, from different environments. We shouldn't be afraid of diversity. Brotherhood lets us understand that it is a treasure, a gift for everyone.

"Solidarity is a scaring word to the developed world," Francis said.

"However it is our word. It is not enough to give this people a sandwich; we need to accompany them along the way," he said.

Francis' annoyance with high-security measure and his down-to-earth style are in line with the new humble course he set when he took office in March. On his first official trip overseas, the Argentinian pontiff carried his own bag as he boarded the flight to Brazil.

Once in Rio de Janeiro he refused to use his bulletproof Popemobile and kept the window of his car open even after his driver took a wrong turning and left the approved route.

He has made a habit of ringing up random worshippers with words of comfort or encouragement.

Pope Francis rome
Pope Francis arrived aboard a Ford Focus at the Jesuit run Astalli Centre, in central Rome (Reuters)